Galerie Frey, Otto-Wagner-Straße 14, D-82110 Germering,   Germany presents photo art by BERND SANNWALD and Dieter Härtter.

Opening: October 14, 7pm

Laudatio: Dagmar Dengg

Duration: October 11 till November 13, 2016

Opening hours: TUE – THU 2pm – 7pm and by appointment




Mark Pol,  Eye on the world, 70 x 90 cm, gacrylic on paper

The luxury hotel Pulitzer in Amsterdam presents on occasion of its Art Gallery works of the Dutch painter MARK POL.

Art Gallery Hotel Pulitzer

Prinsengracht 315 – 331

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Duration: October 15 till November 15, 2016




Herbert Bauer, Burg Schrattental, 30 x 40 cm, graphit on paper, 2007

On occasion of Liezener Kulturtage the Haus Vabene presents pencil drawings by the Schladming based artist HERBERT BAUER.


Salzstraße 24

A-8940 Liezen, Austria

Duration: October 17 – 21, 2016




“Art Shopping”

Agnieszka Ceccarelli, Tulips, mixed media on canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2016

The Italian artist Agnieszka Ceccarelli presents on occasion of 19. Salon International d’Art Contemporain im Carlousel du Louvre in Paris her latest artworks.

VIP Preview: October 21, 2016, 7 – 10pm

Exhibition schedule:

October 22, 2016, 11am – 10pm

October 23, 2016, 11am – 7pm



“Linden Postcard Show 2016”
Inna Moshkovich, Beauty of Nature, acrylic on canvas, 8 x 10 inch, 2016

In the annually upcoming Postcard Show of Gallery Linden in Melbourne Inna Moshkovich will be represented with small-scale works.

Linden Postcard Show 2016

Duration: October 21, 2016 till January 29, 2017

Award presentation ceremony: October 21 from 4 – 8 pm

Linden New Arts

26 Acland St, St. Kilda,

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia




“In Paradiso”

Until November 27, 2016 the anniversary exhibition of Concilio Europeo dell’Arte in IN PARADISO gallery can still be seen.

In Paradiso

Giardini della Biennale Venezia

Venice, Italy

Opening hours:

Daily from 10am – 7pm



BIENNALE AUSTRIA – Verein zur Förderung zeitgenössischer KünstlerInnen

1070 Vienna, Schottenfeldgasse 19/8, phone 0043 (0) 1 526 83 27, e-mail:,

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6 Painting Techniques That Don’t Involve a Paintbrush

6 Painting Techniques That Don’t Involve a Paintbrush

The youngest of the “big three” Mexican Muralist painters, David Alfaro Siqueiros, was also one of the first artists to publicly shun the paintbrush, calling the tool “an implement of hair and wood in an age of steel.” Seeking new painting techniques fit for the modern age, Siqueiros established the groundbreaking Experimental Workshop in New York City in 1936. There, young artists like Jackson Pollock gathered to pour, airbrush, scrape, and splatter pigments, incorporating industrial techniques into their artistic practices.

Long after the workshop, artists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Yves Klein continued to experiment with unconventional techniques, expanding the vocabulary of painting to include drips, stains, body prints, and digital drawing, to name just a few. Below, we bring you six painting methods for which artists eschewed the brush in favor of innovative tools and techniques.

Splattering and Dripping

Enter Slideshow

In February of 1956—exactly 20 years after the Experimental Workshop—Time magazine nicknamed Pollock “Jack the Dripper.” But while the artist may be most famous for flinging pigments across canvases, he was hardly the first to do so. Japanese Zen Buddhist painters, for example, experimented with splashed ink as far back as the 15th century, long before Pollock created his first action painting in the mid-1940s.

Pollock’s splatter and drip technique, with its explosive results, captured the curiosity of the American public, especially after the photographer and filmmaker Hans Namuth published footage of the artist at work in his Long Island studio. Placing canvases on the floor, Pollock would incorporate metal rods, kitchen tools, towels, and sticks into his painting process, though these tools rarely touched the canvas directly. “It doesn’t make much difference how the paint is put on as long as something has been said,” the artist once explained. “Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement.”



Helen Frankenthaler at work on a large canvas, 1969. Photo by Ernst Haas. Ernst Haas/Getty Images

Enter Slideshow

At the Experimental Workshop, Siqueiros also pioneered a method of pouring paint directly onto the canvas. His technique of “accidental painting” involved spilling different colors on top of one another so that the paint would coalesce into unexpected, swirling patterns on the picture’s surface. This effect inspired the art historian Sandra Zetina, along with physicist Roberto Zenit, to recreate Siqueiros’s painting process in the lab, publishing her findings just last year in an essay titled “A Hydrodynamic Instability Is Used to Create Aesthetically Appealing Patterns in Painting.”

Frankenthaler pushed this technique one step further in 1952 with her pivotal work Mountains and Sea, for which she applied thin washes of paint to an unprimed canvas. Instead of resting on top of the canvas, the paint in this image stained the canvas—a significant feat in an era when avant-garde artists were fascinated with the flatness of painting. More recently, the British artist Ian Davenport has poured stripes of paint down canvases using syringes, letting the colors mix and pool together towards the bottom of his abstract paintings.

Pulling and Scraping

Still from Gerhard Richter Painting, a film by Corinna Belz.

Enter Slideshow

The act of pulling and scraping paint is most associated with the Dutch Abstract Expressionist Willem de Kooning, who achieved this effect with a palette knife, and the German contemporary painter Gerhard Richter, who often used a squeegee. “With a brush you have control,” Richter once explained. “The paint goes on the brush and you make the mark…With the squeegee you lose control.”

Like Pollock’s action painting, the mystery of Richter’s scraping technique inspired the filmmaker Corinna Belz to take viewers behind the scenes. For her fly-on-the-wall documentary Gerhard Richter Painting (2011), Belz spent three years in Richter’s studio, capturing the artist pulling paint across the canvas in what appear to be physically draining gestures. Richter drags, smears, and scrapes layers of wet paint, leaving tracks of his movements across the surface and then covering them up.


Body Printing

Yves Klein, Anthropométries de l’époque bleue, Galerie internationale d’art contemporain, Paris, March 9, 1960. Photograph by Charles Wilp. Art Resource, NY / Klein, Yves (1928-1962) © ARS, NY. Image courtesy of Dominique Lévy Gallery.

Enter Slideshow

Exposing the artistic process even further, the French artist Yves Klein produced his “Anthropometry” paintings in front of an audience. First held at the Galerie Internationale d’Art Contemporain in Paris in 1960, Klein’s performances (now considered by many to be outrageously sexist) featured nude female models—who the artist referred to as “human paintbrushes”—rolling themselves in his patented International Klein Blue paint. The women then proceeded to create imprints of their bodies on giant pieces of paper, which were arranged on the walls and floor of the gallery. Behind them, Klein conducted a 10-piece orchestra, playing the one-note Monotone Silence Symphony, written by the artist himselfThe performance lasted for 20 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of silence.

In the 1960s and ’70s, American artist David Hammons created his own series of body prints, using the technique to comment on the Civil Rights-era race riots in the U.S. and the Vietnam War. Hammons often used his own body as the brush, covering himself with grease or margarine before pressing his form onto a surface. Afterwards, Hammons would sprinkle powdered pigments on top of the support, which would stick to the grease and reveal the image.



Chuck Close painting Mark, 1978–79. Courtesy of Chuck Close and Pace Gallery, New York.

Enter Slideshow

“To avoid a painterly brushstroke and surface, I use some pretty devious means, such as razor blades, electric drills, and airbrushes,” explained the painter Chuck Close in an Artforum interview in 1970. Originally a photo-retouching tool, airbrushes use compressed air to spray paint onto a surface, creating smooth gradations that are reminiscent of photographs.

Close used this technique to depict his friend and fellow painter Mark Greenwold in his large-scale photorealist portrait Mark (1978-9). For the image, Close employed the four basic colors used in color printing—cyan, magenta, yellow, and black—to recreate the photo-mechanical reproduction process, using the airbrush to carefully control the layering of paint. While Close is perhaps the most famous painter to use this industrial tool, other painters like Betty Tompkins have similarly adopted the airbrush technique.

Digital Painting

Portrait of Petra Cortright by Stefan Simchowitz, 2016. Image courtesy of Petra Cortright Studio.

Enter Slideshow

Pollock, Frankenthaler, Klein, and Close may have created paintings without a paintbrush, but pop artist David Hockney makes paintings without any paint. Using his iPad, a stylus, and the Brushes application, Hockney creates vivid landscapes “painted” outside, or en plein air. “People from the village come up and tease me: ‘We hear you’ve started drawing on your telephone,’” Hockney wrote in a catalogue for the de Young Museum. “And I tell them, ‘Well, no, actually, it’s just that occasionally I speak on my sketch pad.’”

The California-based multimedia artist Petra Cortright also creates digitally manipulated paintings on the computer. She layers hundreds of found images using Photoshop, often spending up to 12 hours in front of the screen at a time. Like many artists before her, Cortright has taken steps to reveal these unconventional working methods. Her “painting videos” decompose this process of layering images, and have been exhibited as artworks in their own right.

If Siqueiros sought modern painting techniques for the industrial age, then Hockney and Cortright have updated the medium for the digital era. Removing the canvas, the paint brush, and even the paint itself, artists today continue to invent new methods that expand our traditional ideas about what it takes to make a painting.

Sarah Gottesman

100 years of typewriter art

How to view art – 2 opinions

How to view art:

Philip Kennicott October 4, 2014acceptcontradictioncrucifixionengagememoryman-looking-at-artmuseum-selfieseeksilenceseeksilencemuseum-selfieman-looking-at-artengagememorycrucifixionacceptcontradiction


  1. Take time

The biggest challenge when visiting an art museum is to disengage from our distracted selves. The pervasive, relentless, all-consuming power of time is the enemy. If you are thinking about where you have to be next, what you have left undone, what you could be doing instead of standing in front of art, there is no hope that anything significant will happen. But to disengage from time has become extraordinarily complicated. We are addicted to devices that remind us of the presence of time, cellphones and watches among them, but cameras too, because the camera has become a crutch to memory, and memory is our only defense against the loss of time.

The raging debate today about whether to allow the taking of pictures inside the museum usually hinges on whether the act of photographing is intrusive or disruptive to other visitors; more important, the act is fundamentally disruptive to the photographer’s experience of art, which is always fleeting. So leave all your devices behind. And never, ever make plans for what to do later in a museum; if you overhear people making plans for supper, drinks or when to relieve the baby sitter, give them a sharp, baleful look.

Some practical advice: If you go an hour before closing time, you won’t have to worry about what time it is. Just wait until the guards kick you out. Also: If you have only an hour, visit only one room. Anything that makes you feel rushed, or compelled to move quickly, will reengage you with the sense of busy-ness that defines ordinary life. This is another reason that entrance fees are so pernicious: They make visitors mentally “meter” the experience, straining to get the most out of it, and thus re-inscribe it in the workaday world where time is money, and money is everything.
(Monica Ramos/for The Washington Post)

  1. Seek silence

Always avoid noise, because noise isn’t just distracting, it makes us hate other people. If you’re thinking about the mind-numbing banality of the person next to you, there’s little hope that you will be receptive to art. In a museum, imagine that you have a magnetic repulsion to everyone else. Move toward empty space. Indulge your misanthropy.

That’s not always easy. Too many museums have become exceptionally noisy, and in some cases that’s by design. When it comes to science and history museums, noise is often equated with visitor engagement, a sign that people are enjoying the experience. In art museums, noise isn’t just a question of bad manners but a result of the celebrity status of certain artworks, such as the Mona Lisa, which attracts vast and inevitably tumultuous throngs of visitors to the Louvre. But any picture that attracts hordes of people has long since died, a victim of its own renown, its aura dissipated, its meaning lost in heaps of platitudes and cant. Say a prayer for its soul and move on.

Seek, rather, some quiet corner of the museum full of things no one else seems to care about. Art that is generally regarded as insipid (19th-century American genre paintings) or hermetic (religious icons from the Byzantine world) is likely to feel very lonely, and its loneliness will make it generous. It may be poor, but it will offer you everything it has.
(Monica Ramos/for The Washington Post)

  1. Study up

One of the most deceptive promises made by our stewards of culture over the past half century is: You don’t need to know anything to enjoy art. This is true only in the most limited sense. Yes, art can speak to us even in our ignorance. But there’s a far more powerful truth: Our response to art is directly proportional to our knowledge of it. In this sense, art is the opposite of popular entertainment, which becomes more insipid with greater familiarity.

So study up. Even 10 minutes on Wikipedia can help orient you and fundamentally transform the experience. Better yet, read the old cranks of art history, especially the ones who knew how to write and have now become unfashionable (Kenneth Clark, Ernst Gombrich). When visiting special exhibitions, always read the catalogue, or at least the main catalogue essay. If you can’t afford the catalogue, read it in the gift shop.

Rules for the gift shop: Never buy anything that isn’t a book; never “save time” for the gift shop because this will make you think about time; never take children, because they will associate art with commerce.

Many museums have public education programs, including tours through the galleries with trained docents. Always shadow a docent tour before joining one. If the guide spends all his or her time asking questions rather than explaining art and imparting knowledge, do not waste your time. These faux-Socratic dialogues are premised on the fallacy that all opinions about art are equally valid and that learning from authority is somehow oppressive. You wouldn’t learn to ski from someone who professed indifference to form and technique, so don’t waste your time with educators who indulge the time-wasting sham of endless questions about what you are feeling and thinking.
(Monica Ramos/for The Washington Post)

  1. Engage memory

The experience of art is ephemeral, and on one level we have to accept that. But beyond the subjective experience, art is also something to be studied and debated. Unfortunately, unlike most things we study and debate, art is difficult to summarize and describe. Without a verbal description of what you have seen, you may feel as if nothing happened during your visit. You may even feel you can’t remember anything about it, as if it was just a wash of images with nothing to hold on to.

But even if the actual experience of art is difficult to retain and remember, the names of the artists, the countries in which they worked, the years they lived and were active, and a host of other things are easily committed to memory. Some museum educators, who know these things, will tell you this kind of detail doesn’t matter; they are lying. Always try to remember the name of and at least one work by an artist whom you didn’t know before walking into the museum.

When trying to remember individual art works, make an effort to give yourself a verbal description of them. Perhaps write it in a notebook. The process of giving a verbal description will make details of the work more tangible, and will force you to look more deeply and confront your own entrenched blindness toward art. If your description feels cliched, then go back again and again until you have said something that seems more substantial. If all else fails, simply commit the visual details of the work to memory, its subject matter, or general color scheme, or surface texture. Turn away from the work and try to remember it; turn back and check your mental image against the work itself. This isn’t fun. In fact, it can be exhausting. That means you’re making progress in the fight against oblivion.
(Monica Ramos/for The Washington Post)

  1. Accept contradiction

Art must have some utopian ambition, must seek to make the world better, must engage with injustice and misery; art has no other mission than to express visual ideas in its own self-sufficient language. As one art lover supposedly said to another: Monet, Manet, both are correct.

Entertainment Alerts

Big stories in the entertainment world as they break.

Susan Sontag once argued “against interpretation” and in favor of a more immediate, more sensual, more purely subjective response to art; but others argue, just as validly, that art is part of culture and embodies a wide range of cultural meanings and that our job is to ferret them out. Again, both are correct.

The experience of art always enmires us in contradictions. I loathe figurative contemporary art except when I don’t; ditto on abstraction. When looking at a painting, it’s often useful to try believing two wildly contradictory things: That it is just an object, and an everyday sort of object; and that it is a phenomenally radical expression of human subjectivity. Both are correct.

Art is inspiring and depressing, it excites and enervates us, it makes us more generous and more selfish. A love-hate relationship with an artist, or a great work of art, is often the most intense and lasting of all relationships. After years of spending time in art museums, I’ve come to accept that I believe wildly contradictory and incompatible things about art. The usual cliche about this realization would be that by forcing us to confront contradiction, art makes us more human. But never trust anyone who says that last part: “art makes us more human.” That’s meaningless.

Rather, by forcing us to confront contradiction, art makes us ridiculous, exposes our pathetic attempts to make sense of experience, reveals the fault lines of our incredibly faulty knowledge of ourselves and the world. It is nasty, dangerous stuff, and not to be trifled with.

Some practical advice: If you feel better about yourself when you leave a museum, you’re probably doing it all wrong.

Five Rules for (Kinda) Viewing Art

Man listening to an audio guide in front of Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon” (photo by peteaylward/Flickr)

Art critic Philip Kennicott published a guide to viewing art in the Washington Post this week. Lovely and thoughtful though it is, parts of it just seemed sort of … old-fashioned, you know? A little 20th century, if you will. Being a millenial, I took it upon myself to update the guide to better reflect our new, late capitalist, hypernetworked reality. Herewith, five indispensable tips for kinda viewing art.

1. Take Time

… lots of it, because you’ll need it. The most important thing when visiting a museum is to see as much artwork as possible, since, let’s be honest, you don’t manage to go that often, do you? Yeah, didn’t think so.

The best way to ensure that you see enough art is to set an Instagram quota for yourself for the day’s visit. Think about how many photos you posted on your last art outing and try to up the number by some reasonable amount, like 10. Bonus points if all the photos are selfies, but keep in mind that this might be difficult to achieve if you don’t have enough selfie experience. Maybe try starting with a selfie with every work in one specific gallery, for instance. Be aware of your strengths and limitations, and of those of your Insta followers. #awesome

In order to leave yourself enough time, line up at the entrance to the museum at least half an hour before opening time. Plan to spend the entire day with frequent breaks and trips to the various cafes and restaurants within the institution, since food is the new art anyway. Make sure to Instagram those meals, too — your warm goat cheese and toasted walnut salad alongside your favorite newly discovered Minimalist sculpture might make make for a slightly ironic but also intriguing visual comparison.

2. Bring a Friend

For art critics, the way to process art is through writing; for laypeople, it’s through talking. Bring a friend or a date to help you talk your way through whatever art you’re planning to see — conversation in front of a painting inevitably produces fresh insights. If you can’t find an equal, think about bringing a child, either your own or one borrowed from a friend. You’ll be amazed at what thoughtful art viewers kids can make.

If that’s not an option either, visit alone but plan to be bold and make acquaintances (famous artworks are best for this: there’s always a crowd around the “Mona Lisa”). This has its advantages: strangers can offer perspectives you might never even dream up — plus, you never know what might happen. A long, involved, unbelievably romantic story of how you met your future spouse while seeing art will make for a great entry on your future wedding website.

#museumselfie in Jim Hodges’s “Untitled (Near and Far)” (2002) (via @risdmuseum/Instagram)

3. Go with an Open Mind

And by that I mean really open. Some people say you have to read and learn about art to understand it, but that’s really only if you’re a critic or an academic. Everyone else (the lucky bastards) gets to just see and experience art, rather than having to think about it so hard. If you’ve looked at the work and still want to know more, read the wall label. If that’s not enough, you could consider a docent-led tour, definitely a good way to meet people and engage in conversation.

But there are more interesting and original ways to open yourself up to art and commune with it. Try talking to the work, or moving around in front of it, letting your limbs lead you into a freeform improvisational dance. If you see a vibrant red and it inspires lust, run with it. Find a way to express the feelings the art stirs within you before, like everything else, they’re gone.

Later, when the museum’s about an hour from closing time, visit the gift shop. Try to find the mouse pad, calendar, umbrella, watch, or water bottle that most embodies your experience that day, and buy five of them: one for you, four to share with your closest friends who really get you.

4. Don’t Worry Much about Remembering Things

Back in the day before the internet, people had to remember any and everything they thought was worthwhile — texts, how to cook a chicken, their age, etc. Now that the digital blessings of computers and smartphones have been bestowed upon us, we’re able to free up that memory space for day-to-day minutiae, like whether or not we forgot to turn off the stove last night.

The same applies to art: it used to be you had to remember the names of specific pieces and artists you like, but thankfully now it’s all just a Google Image search away! Instagram also comes into play here: the more photos of artworks you post, the fewer you’ll have to remember. This is also why it’s good to visit with a friend — if you can’t remember enough to get a solid Google/Google Image search going, just text them. Between the two of you, you might just be able to figure out who made that immersive installation filled with found trash, flickering lights, and taxidermy that you took selfies in and what it was called.

5. Seek Out Art that Fits Your World View

These days there’s so much art being made and shown, it can be hard to know where to start. I find it’s always good to seek out art that reflects your own ethos and approach to life. Art can be many things, but it’s probably most effective when it’s a mirror — either literal or figurative — reflecting yourself and your ideas back at you. If you’re into abstract art but find its politics hard to decipher, just look at the institution that’s showing it and you should get some answers.

Some say art is meant to be beautiful; others argue it should seek to enlighten or enliven. It doesn’t really matter what camp you’re in as long as you’re in one. Seeing art is worthless until you walk away with four things: a story to share about your experience, an opinion about what it meant, a larger lesson to draw from it, and at least one Instagram. This is how you effectively view art in the age of social media.

How our eyes trick our minds





How your eyes
trick your mind
Look closer at optical illusions, says Melissa Hogenboom, and they can reveal how you truly perceive reality.
Visual, or optical, illusions show us that our minds tend to make assumptions about the world – and what you think you see is often not the truth.

Throughout history, curious minds have questioned why our eyes are so easily fooled by these simple drawings. Illusions, we have found, can reveal everything from how we process time and space to our experience of consciousness.

Scroll down our interactive guide to find out why.
Early illusions
Illusions have a long history, going as far back as the ancient Greeks.
In 350BC, Aristotle noted that “our senses can be trusted but they can be easily fooled”.
He noticed that if you watch a waterfall and shift your gaze to static rocks, the rocks appear to move in the opposite direction of the flow of water, an effect we now call “motion aftereffect” or the waterfall illusion.
Tracking the flow of the water seems to “wear out” certain neurons in the brain as they adapt to the motion. When you then shift your gaze to the rocks, other competing neurons over-compensate, causing the illusion of movement in the other direction.
Mind shift
The real boom in studying illusions began in the 19th Century. A school of scientists who studied perception – among many other things – created simple illusions to shed light on how the brain perceives patterns and shapes, which kick-started the early theories on how our eyes can play tricks on our mind.
The Ebbinghaus illusion, for example, revealed that our brain makes judgements about size using adjacent objects – and this can be manipulated. The orange circles here are actually the same size.
In-depth view
Around the same time, the Ponzo illusion illustrated that context is also fundamental for depth perception.
It shows that identically sized lines can appear to be different lengths when placed between converging parallel lines. This shows how our sense of perspective works. Like a train track, the slanted lines make us believe the top line is further away.
This confuses the brain, and it overcompensates, making the line appear bigger – as it would have to be in real life to produce those kinds of proportions.




One-track mind
For similar reasons, this may be why the lines in the Muller-Lyer illusion appear to be different lengths. The arrows at each end are tricking the brain into thinking the lines are nearer or further away.
Confused? To understand why, consider how two walls meet the ceiling at the top of a room: you’ll see three lines converging. The brain uses these lines to gauge perspective and distance in 3D space – in other words, that the point of the corner is further away than the lines converging towards it.
One theory is that the arrows on either end of the line in the Muller-Lyer illusion trick the mind into thinking it is looking at a similar 3D scene – for example, the arrows on the middle line are similar to a wall-ceiling corner. This nudges the brain into thinking the line is further away, and again, it overcompensates, making it appear longer than the other lines.
Tall story
That isn’t the only way simple lines can warp the way the mind processes the world – and there isn’t always a simple explanation. In the late 1800s, Hermann von Helmholtz first demonstrated that a simple square made up of vertical lines looks shorter and wider than a square made up of horizontal lines.
This is why wearing horizontally striped clothes will make the wearer appear taller and slimmer – contrary to fashion advice.
Researchers suspect the reason is to do with the way we estimate “filled space”, but they’re still not sure why it happens.


Early illusions like this appeared at a ground-breaking time for the study of perception, says illusion historian Nicholas Wade from the University of Dundee in Scotland.
“They were of interest theoretically because they went against the prevailing view that you could understand vision if you understood the way in which an image is formed in the eye.
“The phenomena were small but reliable; they were experimentally tractable and it generated this incredible boom of variations on simple figures.”
Yet this period also saw a series of misguided attempts to find a ‘unifying theory’ of illusions. The literature on illusions is “littered with over-interpretations”, says Wade.
As researchers would later discover, our reactions to illusions can be even more complicated than the early pioneers realised.

20th Century
The 20th Century saw little in the way of a breakthrough in the field of illusions.
But the quest to understand how we process the world continued, and this resulted in some exciting findings about perception.
For example, advances in technology allowed David Hubel and Torsten Wiesel to discover that certain neurons in the brain’s visual cortex fired only when objects were orientated at certain angles – so, for instance, specific neurons fire when you look at a square and a triangle. The finding earned them a Nobel prize in 1981.
Yet where scientists left off, artists moved forward…

In the 1960-70s illusions inspired a style called optical art, or “Op-Art”. Victor Vasarely is widely regarded as the father of this movement, and some of his work is studied by scientists today. For example, research using his “nested squares illusion”, similar to the image below, suggests that the brain identifies shapes using corners rather than lines.
21st Century
Fast forward to the early 2000s and there was a resurgence in illusion research, including looking at the strange way our brains process time.
One school of thought suggests that some illusions highlight the way the brain constantly tries to predict what will happen. The theory goes that many illusions show that we try to predict the future to compensate for the slight delay between an event and our conscious perception of it.
The light from these words you are reading has to reach your eye, before a signal travels to the brain to be processed – this takes time, which means the world you perceive is slightly in the past. Mark Changizi, a theoretical neurobiologist, believes the brain may make predictions about your surroundings in order to “perceive the present”.
The light from these words you are reading has to reach your eye, before a signal travels to the brain to be processed – this takes time, which means the world you perceive is slightly in the past. Mark Changizi, a theoretical neurobiologist, believes the brain may make predictions about your surroundings in order to “perceive the present”.

Zoetropes in the 1800s tricked the brain into seeing motion where there is none
In a study Changizi worked on with Shinsuke Shimojo, of Caltech’s experimental psychology lab in California, they wrote that a whole class of classic “coffee-table” geometrical illusions fit with this theory, such as the Hering illusion.
The Hering illusion, says Changizi, features radial lines that give the illusion of movement, similar to the scene we see as we move forward in the real world. Our brain has therefore evolved to treat these radial lines or streaks as if they are motion, he says.
“In real life when those mechanisms are working well, when you’re moving forward, then those radial lines happening on the back of your eye really are due to real-life motion. The reason they are only misperceptions in the lab is because radial lines trick your brain into thinking there’s motion.”


Today, illusion research is booming once more. Technology advances now allow scientists to peer inside our brains as we look at illusions, and to begin to understand the underlying mechanisms going on inside our head.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) allows researchers to analyse how the neurons in our brain respond to individual illusions.
Square eyed
For example, a brain-imaging study of people looking at the Necker Cube, right, showed that the brain can “flip” between two different views, as it attempts to translate a two-dimensional drawing on a page into a three-dimensional cube. In other words, it confirmed that the brain is tricked into perceiving the cube as a 3D object.
Competing neurons
Or consider the Hermann grid: we see grey dots in the intersections between the white and black grid even though they are not actually there. But look directly at one of the grey dots and it disappears. Based on brain-scanning research, one explanation is that our neurons are competing with each other to see the light and dark parts of the image.
However, these recent advances do not mean that all illusions can be explained. Even this explanation for the Hermann grid – an illusion which is more than a hundred years old – has been disputed, since it can’t account for the fact that the effect changes when the grid has curved lines instead of straight ones.

New illusions
While we know that different areas of the brain deal with colour, form, motion and texture, how the brain encodes and combines this information into a coherent picture remains poorly understood.
What’s more, new illusions, and variants on old ones are appearing all the time. Vision researchers hold an annual competition, now in its 10th year, to find the best new illusions. One of the judges is visual neuroscientist Susana Martinez-Conde from the Barrow Neurological Institute in Arizona. The contest has a selfish motivation of sorts, she says: she wants to keep an eye out for interesting new illusions that will help her to study the brain.
2014’s winning entry is a novel take on the 19th Century Ebbinghaus Illusion. This new version is dynamic, which makes the effect much stronger. “It’s like the Ebbinghaus effect on steroids,” says Martinez-Conde. Just like the original, the illusion highlights that the brain always perceives the size of objects in the context of those that surround them. But if you continually vary this context, then the effect gets even stronger, she explains.
“Many of the newer illusions are takes on the classical versions as the technology has now opened the doors to revisit them,” she says.

Martinez-Conde is now building on the work of some of the 19th Century researchers. It was Helmholtz, for example, who first realised that our eyes make rapid movements called saccades.

To experience them, gently put a finger on your eye lid and move your eye. You will see that the world will start to appear jittery, like a series of snapshots. We don’t notice our eye darting about like this because our brain smoothes things out when constructing what we see.

Martinez-Conde realised that these saccades might help to explain why we see movement in this image, the snake illusion.
This is known as apparent motion. The snake illusion occurs because there’s so much information hitting different parts of our retina at the same time. All this detail is sent to our visual cortex at once, and the resulting confusion tricks the brain into thinking that movement is taking place.
This also happens in the real world when we’re in a fast-moving object like a train, for example. Sure enough, fMRI scans have shown that the same neurons that respond to movement are responding when we look at the image above. Martinez-Conde and colleagues found that suppressing these saccades in people momentarily stops the illusion. Why? She thinks it’s because, with every saccade, the retinal image is “refreshed”, and this overwhelms the visual cortex again with a new scene. If you stop the eye movement, however, the brain adapts and the apparent motion stops.

All of this research points to one thing: our visual system remains too limited to tackle all of the information our eyes take in. “For that our brain would need to be bigger than a building, and still then it wouldn’t be enough,” says Martinez-Conde.

And so our minds take shortcuts. Like betting for the best horse in a race, our brain constantly chooses the most likely interpretation of what we see.

Seeing, then, is certainly not always believing.

My art makes the invisible visible

That what cannot be said might be shown . Ludwig Wittgenstein (philosopher, mathematician).

My art makes visible that what is invisible. That what might be (verbally) ineffable might be shown (revealed, made effable visually and through music).
My work could be labelled many things such as figurtive, non-figurative, symbolic, expressionistic, impressionistic, modernism, post-modernism, post-minimalism, etc. In fact it shows (the processes and results of) making marks on paper (canvas, board, carton or whatever support is used).22997ed90ead2a2dcade3a34710f7b532d24584c41496e73dc500b6ec54bd698eg410series-29-25fa15hm275fh59c

how night inspires great painters

The night  -Ulrich de Balbian 2 images –22997ed90ead2a2dcade3a34710f7b532d24584c41496e73dc500b6ec54bd698219942266000ax3abhts are drawing in. Autumn evenings are getting duskier, mistier, cooler. Early mornings are darker. Soon we’ll be living large parts of our lives under a nocturnal cloak.

As the dark deepens it unleashes imagination and stories of ghosts and witches; dreams and nightmares populate the night. Autumn is the time when they creep out of the lengthening shadows, ready for Halloween. As the world gets darker it also gets more interesting. That is what many artists find, anyway.

Louise Bourgeois, Insomnia, 2000.
Night thoughts … Louise Bourgeois, Insomnia, 2000. Photograph: Christopher Burke/ © The Easton Foundation

A timely exhibition at the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne, called Towards Night, surveys “the nocturnal” in art from the Romantic nights of Caspar David Friedrich and JMW Turner, through the dreamlike nights of Edvard Munch and Marc Chagall, to night scenes and thoughts by the likes of Louise Bourgeois and Peter Doig.

In Doig’s painting Echo Lake, which features in the show, a shadowy forest is reflected in dark water, with a strip of luminous shore bisecting the picture horizontally. Darkness is the realm of possibility and danger, folklore, fear and desire. A policeman stands on the edge of the lake, looking into the dark.

It is no coincidence that many of the artists listed above are from northern latitudes, where winter nights can be long and dark. Doig himself was born in Scotland and spent a lot of his youth in Canada. Friedrich, from northern Germany, and Munch, from Norway, are artists whose imaginations turn towards magnetic north, even towards the Arctic itself – and towards the night. In his 1893 painting Vampire, for instance, Munch fleshes out one of the darkest of all night terrors.

The night and its strangeness are the north’s great gift to European art. Mediterranean art is sunny; it loves light. From the pure blue skies of Italian Renaissance paintings to the sunshine of Cézanne, glorious daylight fills the Mediterranean eye.

Black Barn, 1997 by Amanda Vesey.
Labyrinth of mystery … Black Barn, 1997 by Amanda Vesey. Photograph: © Amanda Vesey. Courtesy of Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

It took northern European artists to reveal the wonder of darkness. Geertgen tot Sint Jans’s painting The Nativity at Night, a very early Dutch masterpiece from about 1490, uses the inky darkness that surrounds Mary and her child to set off their illuminated holiness. This moving idea, of the nativity in the dark as a glowing moment of fragile humanity pitched against the shadows, would still be a powerful Dutch theme in the age of Rembrandt.

Yet northern artists were also driven to look beyond the consoling hearthlight, into night’s most dreadful depths. The German Renaissance artist Hans Baldung Grien was obsessed with depicting witches at their midnight sabbaths. Centuries later in his painting The Night, the German expressionist Max Beckmann unveils a Weimar Berlin night of madness and depravity.

Vincent van Gogh, a northern artist who found himself in the south of France, painted one of the eeriest of all night-life scenes after he fell out with a cafe owner. He told the owner he was going to get revenge by setting up his easel in his cafe and portraying its sleazy atmosphere. The night drinkers and prostitutes enjoyed Van Gogh’s portrayal of their haunt, watching him paint it as a kind of performance art. The result is The Night Café, with its lurid green and red tones and sense of futility and desolation. Edward Hopper captures that same nocturnal desolation in his small-hours painting Nighthawks.

Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks.
Nocturnal desolation … Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks. Photograph: The Art Institute of Chicago. Friends of American Art Collection, 1942./BBC

The night is full of terrors, from witches to loneliness, yet it is a labyrinth of mystery and beauty. The strangest and most marvellous art experience I have had this year involved going into total darkness equipped only with a torch. After clambering over slippery, sharp surfaces and through narrow, claustrophobic apertures, we finally reached a pitch-black gallery where spotlights were turned on to reveal the art. This was not an installation at Tate Modern but a cave in the Pyrenees. Here, deep underground, ice age artists drew bison and ibex with charcoal 13,000 years ago. Why did the ice age artists explore such deep, dark places? Why is the oldest art in the world shrouded in permanent night? It has to be that our imaginations crave darkness. Only in the dark can we forget the banal distraction of daylit reality and enter a visionary realm of dreams. Art is a creature of the night.