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The Geeks at the Gates: COVID-19 Extras. The Art Rant! Hat explains fine art.

We're in lockdown, and going a little stir crazy. So, we're entertaining ourselves by making more podcasts, which hopefully will help to entertain you as you isolate yourself to help defeat this virus.

Today we're exploring the other side of the Geek - the things our team is obsessive about that are not generally considered "geeky". There is no question that Hat is a massive nerd. But she also studied fine art, and holds a Master's Degree, no less.

So, now we're all locked in our houses, she sat down across the internet and explained Fine Art to Regie, who doesn't know much about art beyond comics...

Click on the image below to go directly to the download page, or search for The Geeks at the Gates wherever you get your podcasts.


We began with a discussion of Hat's own background in art, in which mention was made of Louise Bourgeois' sculpture "Spider" which she saw in the Tate Modern back in the nineties. Click the image to go to the Tate's page on this piece.


Regie mentioned an Antony Gormley sculpture, which he remembered as a standing woman, but is in fact cast in lead from the artists own body. Never the less, it's stunning, and it's here:

Gormley Sculpture

Click the image to go to the Cathedral's page.

Regie also remembered an exhibit featuring a "big wooden ball" and some "big wooden shapes" at the Tate in St Ives. During the discussion he couldn't remember the name of the artist, but subsequent research tells us it was David Nash.

We haven't found the film that Regie saw online, but here's a short video of it taken in 2013 as the tide comes in. This "wooden boulder" has existed in the landscape since 1978...

Click the image to go to the Tate's page for the exhibit that Regie saw:

Wooden Boulder by David Nash

Hat remembered a room full of little Gormley sculptures at what is now Tate Liverpool. That was an installation called "Field", and it looked like this:

Field by Gormley

Click the image to go to the Tate's page for this installation.

Then we moved on to the development of Western Art, landing on the Arnolfini Portrait by Van Eyck:

Arnolfini Portrait

Click the image to go to the National Gallery's page about this important example of naturalism.

There was some discussion about how this level of natural realism could have been achieved, with Regie recalling a documentary in which Bradford born artist David Hockney put forward his view that artists had used camera obscuras to project the image they wanted to paint onto their canvas. That documentary is available for free on YouTube:

Hat recalled a similar documentary involving American magic slingers Penn and Teller. It's called "Tim's Vermeer" and doesn't appear to be available for free anywhere, but can be rented on YouTube. Here's a trailer:

There's also a scene in the novel (and subsequent movie) "Girl with a Pearl Earring" where Vermeer uses such a device:

We then moved on to the Night Watch by Rembrandt:

The Night Watch by Rembrandt

As ever, click on the link for more information.

And of course, because they're both massive geeks, they had to mention the cover of Terry Pratchett's excellent novel "Night Watch" which features a pastiche of Rembrandt's famous opus:

And of the brilliant promotional flashmob that the Rijksmuseum did to promote their exhibition in 2013:

We then got on to Rococo, and the first of our Doctor Who links asthis is a style associated with Madame du Pompadour, known to all true Whovians as "The Girl in the Fireplace".

Nope. This has nothing to do with anything really, it's just an excuse to get some Tenth Doctor goodness onto your screen...

We then moved on to actual Rococo art, with Hat waxing lyrical about The Swing:

Swing painting

Click on the image for more information about this, and some of the artists other major works.

Then we got into the neo-classicists - specifically the painting "The Death of Marat"

Click on the image above for more info.

Mention was made of the painting of Rouen Cathedral by Monet - which is actually a series of thirty paintings of the Gothic structure in different lights. Here are some of them - as ever, click the image for more info:

Many versions of Monet's Rouen Cathedral

This led us to a discussion of Van Gough. Hat gave the correct pronunciation, and Regie confirmed that it definitely shouldn't be pronounced "Van-GO", which is a make of tent:

A Vango tent

Again, because we're massive geeks we also brought up Van Gough's Doctor Who connection - the Eleventh Doctor episode "Vincent and the Doctor is regarded at one of the best ever made, and contains two little gems of TV which are shared here without any kind of apology:


Inspired, of course, by this painting - click the image for more info.

Van Gough's Starry Night

And then of course there is this, which may not actually be by Van Gough:

Starry night featuring the TARDIS

And finally, there's this song:

But it's this scene from Doctor Who that everyone remembers, and for what it's worth, we agree with every word the curator says.


And of course we mentioned Van Gough's Sunflowers - something he painted many times. Here's one of them. Click the image for more info.

Van Gough's Sunflowers

From there we sauntered into the twentieth century and hit Cubism. Regie reckoned the only painting from that school he knew was Picasso's Guernica:

Piccassom's Guernica

Click on the image for more info.

Hat's example for cubism was Picasso's "Weeping Woman":

Picasso's Weeping Woman

Click on the image for more information.

We also hit on the DaDa movement, specifically Duchamp's "Fountain":

Duchamp's Fountaint

Click the image for more info.

We then moved on to the surrealist movement, specifically Mountain Lake by Salvador Dali:

Dali's Mountain Lake

Click on the image for more info.

From there Hat moved to Pop Art, which inevitable led to Andy Warhol and a wall full of soup cans

Soup cans by Andy Warhol

Click the image for more info.

And of course there was also mention of the Marilyn Monroe screen print.

Warhol Marilyn Monroe

Click the image for more info.

We then had a go at the loathsome Roy Lichenstein - although I reckon we were nicer about him than he deserved - who made a fortune copying the work real artists he never acknowledged. Regie wondered aloud if he'd ever sued anyone for plagiarism, and so far as we can tell he didn't, so there's that, at least.

And no, we're not putting any of his "work" on this page. Not ever. We respect the real artists whose work he "appropriated" far too much.

From there to the post modernists. Hat mentioned the "Three ball toat equilibrium tank" by Jeff Koons - see below:

And then, of course, there is Cornelia Parker's shed:

Exploding Shed

Click on the image for more information.

Hat also mentioned the brass insturments that Parker ran over with a steam roller to make the installation "Breathless":

Breathless (Squashed brass instruments)

Click the image for more info.

And then of course, we got to talking about comics. Hat mentioned Babs Tarr (one of Regie's favourite artists), whose work can be found on Instagram and here:

While Regie mentioned Alex Ross and his exaggerated realism. His work can be found here:

And that's it for now, save for the links below which will take you to all kinds of galleries and artistic goodness. Have fun exploring!

We'll be back with more Geeks at the Gates soon. Until then, be kind to yourself, be kind to everyone else, stay home if you possibly can, and take care of yourself!

Links to all kinds of gallery online tours and such:

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