Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Mona Lisa Smile (2003)

This movie from 2003 is one I have in my collection and I watch it regularly. It is the story of art history teacher Katherine Watson, who comes to teach at Wellesly, a prestigious all-women college. It is 1953, and the roles of men and women in society are very clear. Although women do need an education, that is not as important as finding a husband and children. For most of the girls at the college, that is their ultimate goal.
Katherine Watson, not married herself, finds it hard to adjust at first. The girls come to class very prepared (they all know the syllabus by heart) and give Katherine the idea that she is not a very good teacher. Then she decides to challange them and make them think, what is art, what makes art, when is art good etc. By being who she is, she also makes them think about what they want in their lives and how they want that.

All the girls in her class are changed by what they learn in her class.
Betty is sure she wants a marriage and her own household, only to find out that perhaps that is not all she thought it would be.
Joan is a very intelligent young woman who could get into Yale law school, but declines this when her fiancee wants to marry her.
Giselle finds out she can have a live of her own, and Conny finally finds the courage to pursue love.

Julia Roberts plays Katherine Watson, Kirsten Dunst is Betty, Julia Styles is Joan, Maggy Gyllenhaal is Gisele and Jennifer Goodwin is Conny. The cast is amazing and the costumes are great.

The absolute great message of this movie is not that women should stay at home, or should have a carreer, or combine both, but that all women have a choice to do what is best for them.
Julia Roberts as Katherine Watson

One of Katherine's lectures

Joan and Betty listen to the lecture

Katherine makes the girls study paintings by Jackson Pollock, to make them see more than just the obvious.

When the year is over, all the girls come to show their appreciation for Katherine, by bringing her their versions of Sunflowers by Vincent van Gogh.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Quote: Anton Chekhov

People don't notice whether it is Winter of Summer when they are happy.
Anton Chekhov (Russian author 1860-1904)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

In Rome mother Mary is always near

In Rome you can find images of Mother Mary everywhere, above doors, on the corner of the street, on a pillar. Here are a few examples. These photographs were made by me in Rome this month.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Trastevere in Rome

Trastevere literally means 'On the other side of the Tevere', or the Tiber as the river that runs through Rome is also called. This neighbourhood has great atmosphere and I can really recommend a visit.
Creative balcony

Old houses

Lovely shop

Nice squares

A beautiful church is the Santa Maria in Trastevere, with 12th century mosaics. The inside is even richer.

The bell tower of the Santa Maria in Trastevere

Isn't this just wonderful?

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Quotation: Marcus Aurelius

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
Flowers on the Forum Romanum,
photograph made by me, Rome 2013

Marcus Aurelius (121-180, Roman emperor and philosopher)

Friday, 19 July 2013

Visions from Rome

Last week I spent a five days in Rome, my most favorite place in the world. I came back last Tuesday and here are some photographs to give you some idea of what we did.
The Pantheon, usually one of my first visits when I am in Rome. The building is so amazing.

Piazza Navona is the best square in the world,
it is beautiful and the atmosphere is amzing with all the artists.

Flowers and ancient brickwork on the Forum Romanum and the Palatine.
I just happen to like both, so usually I make a lot of photographs of flowers and old stones.

These stairs lead to the Piazza Campidoglio. Climbing them is well worth it.

Trevi fountain, of course I threw in my coin, I want to come back to Rome, after all!

The Spanish stairs with the church at the top of the hill. Loads of tourists, usually.

The columns on the sides of the Saint Peter's square. So impressive.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

In memoriam: The Romanovs

Today it is 95 years ago the Imperial family of Russia was killed. Tsar Nocolas II, his wife Alexandra, their daughters Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia and the tsarevich Alexeii were all shot in the cellar of the house in Jekatarinaburg, together with their doctor and two servants. Such a sad history.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Quote: Giotto di Bondono

Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions and the city of yearning.
Rome, 2009, photograph made by me.
Giotto di Bondono (Italian painter, 1266-1337)

Friday, 12 July 2013

Going to Rome soon

Since I will be flying to Rome later, here is just a little inspiration from last year. I cannot wait to see all this again, and more of course. Rome, here I come!
River Tevere, seen from the Casel San Angelo

History, history, history. A view over the Forum Romanum.

The most amazing square in the world, Piazza Navona. Very difficult to make a decent photograph here, since it is usually very crowded. This photograph was taken quite early in the morning.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

James Abbott McNeill Whistler, part 2

James Whistler did not only paint his beautiful nocturnes, he also painted portraits that are absolutely amazing.
Here are a few examples.
Self portrait

Symphony in white

Harmony in Pink and Grey

Portrait of his mother. This is probably his best-known portrait, but it is not my favorite.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Quote: Albert Einstein

People love chopping wood. In this activity one immediately sees results.
Albert Einstein (Scientist 1879-1955)

Friday, 5 July 2013

Finally: Summer holiday!

The end of the schoolyear has come. Today is the last day of school and this afternoon my Summer holiday starts. Seven weeks vacation, I cannot help it, I just love that idea, so much days of not having to do anything, just read, blog, sit on my balcony, visit friends, go to museums etc. In short, seven weeks of bliss.
Well, this picture of Marilyn Monroe summs it up, I think.
Photo from flickr

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

James Abbot McNeill Whistler

James Abbot MacNeill Whistler was born in 1834 in the US, but when he was 21 he came to Europe to paint. He lived in Paris and in London, visited Venice and Amsterdam and other cities and painted a few of the most beautiful paintings ever. He was friends with artists like Edouard Manet and Oscar Wilde, but he also made enemies like art critic John Ruskin.

I first heard of Whistler when I was watching the series The House of Elliot. This beautiful BBC series from the nineties is set in the twenties. It is the story of two sisters, Bea and Evie, who started a fashion house. They based their first collection of evening gowns on the Nocture paintings by Whistler. I was fascinated and looked him up, and I fell in love with his paintings. Here are a few of his Nocturnes.
One of the eveningogwns in The House of Elliot

Nocturne in blue and silver

Nocturne in blue and gold

Nocturne, the Solent

Nocturne in blue and silver

My own Whistler-moment, the photograph I took from the lake
and somehow it turned out like this.
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