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My name is Vashik Armenikus. I scrutinise art to find its secrets.

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…or how to teach art to teenagers.

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Photo by Andrey Grodz on Unsplash

My art teacher Aleksei Alexandrovich taught, read and wrote about art for twenty-five years, and in all this time he understood nothing about art. The thirteen-year olds, like me, could sense it - especially when he took us on our monthly school trips to Moscow’s art galleries in the late 90's

During those trips he resembled an actor who pretended to be an art teacher. Once in the art gallery, he always spoke in a much louder voice than it was required. He also used a high pitched intonation which we only heard from him during those school trips. …


The artist who wasn’t born a genius, but became one.

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Francisco Goya, The Meadow of San Isidro (1798) | Wiki Commons

In one of his short aphorisms, the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer said:

‘Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.’

For the most of his life the Spanish painter Francisco Goya hit the targets no one else could hit. He came from a low-middle class family, but due to his exceptional talent he quickly became a painter at the 18th century Spanish court.

The Spanish nobility admired Goya for the beautiful portraits he painted of them. But for Goya, the admiration of aristocrats and the wealth it brought to him…


How does Paolo Sorrentino use art in his award winning drama-series.

The Young Pope (2016), HBO and The Sky Atlantic, written and directed by Paolo Sorrentino, starring Jude Law. | Fair use.

When The Young Pope’s production team asked permission from the Vatican to film in Sistine Chapel they received a strong refusal.

The Vatican did not tell the reason for their decision. How could the Catholic Church agree to film a show that aims to reveal the corruption in its ranks?

A young cardinal, Lenny Belardo, gets elected as a Pope Pius XIII when the machinations of the leading contenders fail. In other words, Lenny becomes the Pope because of…


A true tale of hope and despair.

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‘The Raft of Medusa’ by Théodore Géricault | Wiki Commons

‘Géricault allowed me to see his Raft of Medusa while he was still working on it. It made so tremendous an impression on me that when I came out of the studio I started running like a madman and did not stop till I reached my own room.’ ~ Eugène Delacroix, Diaries 1817

Delacroix was not the only one who was driven close to madness by the Gericault’s painting. Since its creation ‘The Raft of Medusa’ instilled a fanatical and even religious devotion among its admirers. …


Tips on capturing life and love for art.

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Photo by Václav Pluhař on Unsplash

‘The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera.’ ~ Dorothea Lange, American photojournalist

Brazillian photographer Alécio de Andrade spent 39 years photographing visitors in the Louvre. He took 12,000 shots, each of them filled with the drama and emotion of how people of all ages and backgrounds reacted to the masterpieces of art.

Thousands of Alecio’s photos were accepted to the Magnum Collection — one of the most prestigious photo banks of the world. …


The secret drawings of Victor Hugo.

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Ma Destinée (My Destiny) by Victor Hugo 1867 | Wiki Commons

... You shall leave everything you love most:
this is the arrow that the bow of exile
shoots first. You are to know the bitter taste
of others’ bread, how salty it is, and know
how hard a path it is for one who goes
ascending and descending others’ stairs …’

~ Dante Alighieri, Florentine poet.

Every great poet tasted the bitter fruit of being in exile. Ovid, Dante, Byron, Wilde — these great connoisseurs of the human heart were rejected by the capricious narrow-mindedness of the crowd and were forced out of their homes. But their exile was always…


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From Wes Anderson’s brilliant The Grand Budapest Hotel.

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Practical tips for the modern reader.

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Saint Jerome Writing by Caravaggio | Wiki Commons

A good reader, a major reader, an active and creative reader is a re-reader.

— Vladimir Nabokov

In 1499, Leonardo da Vinci moved from Milan — the city where he had spent last seven years of his life — and returned to his native Florence. Among his belongings were several items of clothes, multiple types of drawing and art supplies, and one-hundred books. He came from a wealthy family but he had never received what was considered ‘official education’, because he was born out of wedlock.

Everything he knew, he owed to nature and books. In his recent biography of…


Reading the concealed references in Delacroix’s painting.

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Liberty Leading the People (La Liberté guidant le peuple) by Eugène Delacroix, Louvre Museum | Public Domain Wiki Commons

‘God, she is filthy’ wrote a French newspaper L’Avenir in 1831. ‘The lowest type of Harlot’ wrote a critic about Delacroix’s depiction of Lady Liberty in the Journal des Artistes in May of the same year. Overnight this painting became the most criticised artwork that was displayed in the famous Paris Salon.

The critics and art community were furious. In their eyes Delacroix dared to desecrate, humiliate and stain, not only the symbol of freedom and liberty, but also the sacred symbol of France. …

Vashik Armenikus

A music expert. Renaissance art student. A passionate reader. I scrutinise art to find its secrets.

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