Posts Tagged ‘Pieter Bruegel the Elder’

I was listening to some music early this morning and came across this song, one that I hadn’t heard in a number of years. Thought it might be a good one to share if only to show the painting that adorned the album cover from which it came.

The painting is from Pieter Bruegel the Elder from 1559. It is titled Netherlandish Proverbs and contains depictions of at least 112 proverbs or idioms used by the Dutch at the time. Some are still in use, such as “Banging your head against a brick wall” which you can see in the bottom left hand corner. Others have faded from usage, like”Having one’s roof tiled with tarts” which indicates that one is very wealthy.

If you go to the Wikipedia page for the painting there is a great list of the the proverbs along with the imagery for each. I am enjoying it as I work my way through the list. Even without the list, looking closely at a Bruegel painting is always a great pleasure.

The painting was used on the cover of the Seattle based Fleet Foxes‘ self-titled 2008 first album. The song is White Winter Hymnal which works well for this time of the season. The lyrics are actually kind of nonsensical but the song is lovely and the video is interesting. The song has also been covered by the acapella group Pentatonix.

So, take a look at the painting and hopefully you will enjoy the song and video. Have a good day.

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The painter Pieter Brugel ( 1525-1569) is a favorite of mine,as the color, composition and rhythm of his work quickly draw me into his paintings. I had seen images of the painting above a number of times and had enjoyed it every time by just absorbing it as a whole. But knowing just a few facts about it make it even more interesting.

It’s titled Census at Bethlehem and is from 1566. It certainly refers to the Christmas story of Joseph and Mary arriving in Bethlehem. They are depicted in the lower central part of the image, Mary on a donkey led by Joseph. But it is apparent that this is not the proper time or place for the story for the biblical tale. It is a Dutch/Flemish scene  fifteen hundred years in the future. But it turns out that this was not unusual for Bruegel. He often took myths and tales from other times and cultures and placed them in contemporary settings.

It is also suggested that this painting was a veiled criticism that compared the governance of the Netherlands, marked by heavy taxation and a rough suppression of Protestantism, under the Spanish king, Philip II, to that of the Roman Empire in the Biblical era in Judea. This was painted just a few years before a revolt against Spanish rule broke out.

Seeing this as a political protest adds a layer to its depth. But however you might look at it– as a simple peasant scene, political screed or religious allegory–for me it is a feast for the eyes.

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Real busy this morning with show prep for my Principle Gallery show. I deliver the show in a mere two weeks and I am at that point in the process where there is so much going on that it seems impossible that it will all come together. Paintings are still getting their final touches and being photographed, frames are being stained, matting being cut and so on.  

I thought that for this morning I would replay a post from back in 2009 about one of my favorite artists, Pieter Bruegel (1525-1569),  with the addition of a video featuring more of his work added at the bottom of the page. Take a look and enjoy the images.

Pieter Bruegel- Tower of BabelI am totally in awe of the work of Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the patriarch of the great Flemish family of painters.  There are so many paintings of his that I could show that would be equal to those I chose for this post but I find these particular pieces striking.  There is great richness and depth as well as a tremendous warmth in his colors.  I always feel enveloped in his paintings as though they wrap around me like a blanket, particularly his peasant pieces.brueghel_hunters in the snow

This piece above  depicting the Tower of Babel has always excited my imagination beyond the actual biblical story.  I’m always reminded of the Gormenghast Trilogy from Mervyn Peake when I see this image and wonder if it had any influence when he was formulating the story for his novels.  The scale of the building and the way it dominates the composition is breathtaking.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels

His earlier allegorical works seem to have been heavily influenced by Hieronymous Bosch and have incredible energy.  He had an ability to take multitudes of forms and scenarios and bring them together in a way that had great rhythm, lending almost an abstract quality to the overall scene.  I find these paintings quite beautiful despite their sometimes jolting imagery.Pieter_Brueghel_The_Triumpf_of_Death

I could look at his work for hours and even writing this short post is taking a long time because I just want to stop and look at his work.  I find it truly inspiring and wonder how it will find its way into my own work someday.  Somehow.  Maybe…brueghel fall of icarus

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GC Myers/ Art in Embassies Catalog 2016 a smI wrote last year about a couple of places where my work has ended up in one way or another.  Recently, I received some material from a couple of these places that show how my work is being used.

The first came in the form of a catalog from the Arts in Embassies Exhibition at the United States Embassy in Kuwait.  My painting that hangs at the Embassy, The Way of the Master, was chosen to adorn the cover.  This was a surprise and a thrill,  especially given the quality of the work from the other artists in the exhibit, including Helen Frankenthaler.

Archaeology: Rooted in the Past

Archaeology: Rooted in the Past

The second was a calendar from the Spanish Society of Soil Science that featured one of my Strata pieces on the cover and Archaeology: Rooted in the Past inside for the month of May.  I didn’t know anything about this calendar other than the fact that my pieces were involved.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover the company I was keeping. Spanish tapestry artist Carles Delclaux and myself were the only living artists involved and among the others were some of my heroes, Vincent Van Gogh and Pieter Brueghel, and some of the finest classic painters from Spain. 

Besides my obvious favorites in Van Gogh and Brueghel and one of the Limbourg Brothers‘ gorgeous plate from Les Tres Heures , one of my favorites from the calendar is shown at the bottom,  titled O Paraño.  It is painted by an interesting character, Alfonso Daniel Rodriguez Castelao, who is better known for his political works and writing in Spain than for his obvious talent as a painter.  This piece was painted in the 1920’s and it’s use of color and form really connected with me.

I realize that in the big scheme of things, these little moments of having my work included in such projects don’t really matter all that much.  But on some days, when things aren’t going too well, there is something reinforcing in seeing them and feeling that my work somehow fits into the larger puzzle.

And that is gratifying.

Castelao- O Parano

Alfonso Daniel Rodriguez Castelao- O Parano

Spanish Soil  Society Calendar Cover 2016 a sm


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Bruegel, Pieter the Elder- Hunters in the Snow (Winter) 1565I was looking for a medieval image of a scene in snow that would fit a piece of medieval seasonal music.  In this instance or most any, you can’t go wrong with a painting from Pieter Bruegel the Elder.  The Flemish painter , who lived from around 1525 until 1569, has long been a favorite of mine with the gorgeous colors of his peasant scenes.  This is one of the more famous of the 45 or so known remaining paintings from Bruegel, titled The Hunters in the Snow  from 1565.  The contrasting darkness of the trees and the hunting party against the lightness of the snow and the atmosphere just make this piece memorable for me.  It is of its time but it feels as though you could step into it, be part of it.

The piece of music I wanted this to accompany is Gaudete, a well known piece that comes from the 16th century which means it, like the Bruegel painting, are not really medieval since that period ended with the 15th century.  But both feel as though they have that medieval feel and, besides,  Gaudete is based on truly medieval Latin lyrics.

The song is a Christmas carol that opens with the line Gaudete, gaudete! Christus est natus which translates to  Rejoice, rejoice! Christ is born.  Gaudete is Latin for rejoice.  While I do not practice any particular religion, this is truly a beautiful expression of the meaning of the season.  This lovely version of the song is an arrangement for 4 voices, arranged and conducted  by Joan Yakkey and performed by 4 adolescents belonging to the Young Madrigalists group of the School of Music of Fiesole, Florence Italy.

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