art

Neri Oxman Reads Walt Whitman – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

A century before computing pioneer Alan Turing comforted his dead soul-mate’s mother, and perhaps himself, with the insistence that “the body provides something for the spirit to look after and use,” and generations before Rilke defiantly refused to become “one of those who neglect the body in order to make of it a sacrificial offering for the soul,” Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) appointed himself the poet of the body and the poet of the soul in one…

Read More

Gorgeous 19th-Century Engravings of Cacti – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Among the oddities of my childhood in communist Bulgaria was my mother’s collection of cacti. Against the chipped grey concrete of our apartment building, these improbable emissaries of another climate from another world stood as spiked sentinels of a fantastical optimism at the portal to another life. Each winter, we brought the entire ensemble — dozens of them, all kinds of shapes and sizes and species — indoors; each summer, we carefully arranged them back on the tiny balcony overlooking…

Read More

At Home in Antwerp with Gert Voorjans – Lifestyle Article

Classically trained and yet famously unconventional, Belgian designer Gert Voorjans creates interiors that are exuberant, elegantly eccentric and refreshingly unexpected! Fearlessly blending antiques, bold color and exotic influences, Gert shares his love of history, art and design throughout his work. Please join Susanna and me for a visit to the colorful and creative realm that is Gert’s atelier and home in Antwerp, Belgium.  Rather like Antwerp itself, Gert Voorjans is an authentic amalgam of old and new, of heritage…

Read More

An Illustrated Victorian Encyclopedia of Poetic Lessons from the Garden – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

“In forty years of medical practice, I have found only two types of non-pharmaceutical ‘therapy’ to be vitally important for patients with chronic neurological diseases: music and gardens,” the poetic neurologist Oliver Sacks wrote in contemplating the healing power of gardens. More than two centuries earlier, gardening had taken on a new symphonic resonance with the psychological and physiological score of human nature when the philosopher Erasmus Darwin, Charles Darwin’s grandfather, published The Botanic Garden — a book-length poem using…

Read More

Gorgeous Illustrations from Elizabeth Blackwell’s 18th-Century Encyclopedia of Medicinal Botany – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

A century before botany swung open the backdoor to science for Victorian women and ignited the craze for herbaria — none more enchanting than the adolescent Emily Dickinson’s forgotten herbarium — a Scottish woman by the name of Elizabeth Blackwell (1707–1758) published, against all cultural odds, an ambitious and scrumptiously illustrated guide to medicinal plants, titled A Curious Herbal: Containing Five Hundred Cuts of the Most Useful Plants Which Are Now Used in the Practice of Physick (public library). Elizabeth…

Read More

Wilson Bentley’s Pioneering 19th-Century Photomicroscopy of Snow Crystals – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Hardly any scientific finding has permeated popular culture more profoundly, transmuted its truth into a more pervasive cliché, or inspired more uninspired college application essays than the fact that no two snowflakes are alike. But for the vast majority of human history, the uniqueness of snowflakes was far from an established fact. In the early seventeenth century, while revolutionizing science with the celestial mechanics of the macro scale that would land his mother in a witchcraft trial, Johannes Kepler turned…

Read More

At Home in Wales with Penny Morrison – Lifestyle Article

Just over the British border, in the breathtaking countryside of Wales, Penny Morrison and art dealer husband Guy retreat from their busy lives in London to their beautiful country home. While the house was originally built in 1790 with an addition thirty years later, the Morrisons were thrilled to discover when they purchased the property some 30 years ago, that it hadn’t been touched since 1910.  After a sensitive 18 month renovation, Penny put her own decorative stamp on the interiors,…

Read More

Poet and Painter Rebecca Hey’s Gorgeous 19th-Century Illustrations for the World’s First Encyclopedia of Trees – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing which stands in the way… As a man is, so he sees,” William Blake wrote in his most beautiful letter a quarter millennium before scientists began to see the molecular poetry of what trees feel and how they communicate. Perched partway in time between Blake’s time and ours, and partway in sensibility between the poetic and the scientific, Sylvan Musings, or,…

Read More

Potter and Poet M.C. Richards on What She Learned at the Wheel About Non-Dualism, Creative Wholeness, and the Poetry of Personhood – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Looking back on the first thirteen years of Brain Pickings, I termed my thirteen most important life-learnings “fluid reflections on keeping a solid center.” But how exactly do we locate our center and master its osmotic balance between fluidity and solidity? That is what poet, potter, and manual philosopher M.C. Richards (July 13, 1916–September 10, 1999) explores in her 1964 counterculture classic Centering: In Pottery, Poetry, and the Person (public library) — an inspired inquiry into “how we may seek…

Read More

The Best of Brain Pickings 2019 – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

Love, poetry, friendship, solitude, and lots of trees. By Maria Popova In this annual review, following the annual selections of the year’s loveliest children’s books and overall favorite books, “best” is as usual a composite measure of what I most enjoyed thinking and writing about over the course of the year, and what you most ardently read and shared. It has been curious to observe, in this most difficult year of my life, the patterns that emerge — strong women’s…

Read More

My Metropolitan Museum Experiment: The Aims, the Rules, the Questions. – Happiness Article

Soon, Elizabeth and I will reveal our “20 for 2020” lists in episode 255 of the Happier podcast. One item on my list is particularly ambitious: it’s my Metropolitan Museum experiment. For the year of 2020, every day that I’m in New York City and the Met is open, I will visit. Every single day. Why? For my next book project, I’m exploring…I don’t yet know how to describe it. I want to shake myself, I want to reach my…

Read More

Favorite Children’s Books of 2019 – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

Great children’s books are really miniature cartographies of meaning, emissaries of the deepest existential wisdom that cut across all lines of division, scuttle past the many walls adulthood has sold us on erecting, and slip in through the backdoor of our consciousness to speak — in the language of children, which is the language of unselfconscious sincerity — the most timeless truths to the truest parts of us. Here are the loveliest such truthful, timeless treasures I savored this year.…

Read More

Calm Yourself Down Using a “Safety Signal” to Combat Stress and Anxiety – Self Improvement Article

When it comes to anxiety and fear, psychology shows us that we have many tools available to use. I’ve written extensively about many of these tools over the past decade, including reframing, acceptance, questioning, and writing exercises. One of my main philosophies behind self-improvement is that the more tools we have available to us, the more options we have when we find ourselves extremely stressed, anxious, or afraid… or just going through a very rough patch in life. In a…

Read More

Gorgeous Vintage Posters of Animals and Scientific Phenomena by Japanese Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Printmaker Kazumasa Nagai – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

A vibrant minimalist celebration of nature, from the scale of cells and atoms to the scale of elephants and the Moon. By Maria Popova Around the time the mid-century French artist and natural history curator Paul Sougy was creating his stunning scientific diagrams of the living world, a young man on the other side of this living world was just beginning to direct his attention and his own uncommon talent toward making visible and beautiful the mysterious processes and phenomena…

Read More

What Color Is Night? Grant Snider’s Illustrated Invitation to Discover the Subtle Beauty of Darkness – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

A spare serenade to the spectrum of wonder between black and white. By Maria Popova “Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty,” the Japanese novelist Junichiro Tanizaki wrote in his gorgeous 1933 love letter to darkness. More than a century before him, Goethe observed in his theory of color and emotion that “color itself is a degree of darkness.” Darkness, we could say, is the sum total of all the colors and all the emotions — a…

Read More

At Home in Charleston with Jill Sharp Weeks – Lifestyle Article

Jill Sharp Weeks was clearly destined for a career in design. Growing up surrounded by her great great uncle’s paintings (American impressionist William S. Robinson), a photographer father and impressionable teenage years spent living in Japan, it is not surprising that Jill has developed a unique and distinct aesthetic that has informed everything she touches. Please join Susanna and me for a memorable weekend visiting Jill and husband Ray in Charleston at their remarkable renovated historic home!  Having begun…

Read More

French Artist Paul Sougy’s Stunning Mid-Century Scientific Illustrations of Plants, Animals, and the Human Body – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

On a recent visit with a friend and her newborn daughter, I was completely taken with an enormous scientific diagram of a snail hanging by the crib, aglow with the thrill of science and the unmistakable vibrancy of mid-century graphic design. I asked about it — she said it was a vintage French classroom poster she had acquired at the Oakland Flea Market. Determined to find out more about its creator, I had only the tiny inscription in the bottom…

Read More

At Home in Los Angeles with Suzanne Rheinstein – Lifestyle Article

Designer Suzanne Rheinstein may love a certain formality but her rooms are anything but stiff. Exuding a relaxed elegance, they are a timeless take on comfort and luxury infused with personality and a fresh and understated flair. And nowhere is her much-admired style more evident than in Suzanne’s own Los Angeles home. Here an effortless mix of antiques, art and decorative objects resonate within subtle palettes and a great attention to detail, proportions and texture. Please join Susanna and me…

Read More

A Poetic Illustrated Meditation on the Meaning of Happiness and Its Quiet Everyday Sources – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“What is your idea of perfect happiness?” asks the famous Proust Questionnaire. Posed to David Bowie, he answered simply: “Reading.” Jane Goodall answered: “Sitting by myself in the forest in Gombe National Park watching one of the chimpanzee mothers with her family.” Proust himself answered: “To live in contact with those I love, with the beauties of nature, with a quantity of books and music, and to have, within easy distance, a French theater.” The touching specificity of these answers…

Read More

At Home in London with Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen – Lifestyle Article

Upon entering the London home of designers Paolo Moschino and Philip Vergeylen, you would never guess that it was once a dismal five bedroom Victorian flat. But their experienced eyes saw something more and after an extensive gut renovation, the apartment was transformed in a glamorous city residence where the design team spends evenings during their busy work weeks, retiring to their country residence in West Sussex on the weekends. Now a large double sitting room, dark jewel box dining…

Read More

How do Dodge a Deadline Like William Blake – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

Neil Gaiman has semi-facetiously located the two primary sources of good ideas in desperation and deadlines. Still, deadlines come and go and, devoid of ideas or dry of their actualization, we despair. We make excuses. Sometimes — like when the dog actually ate Steinbeck’s manuscript — they happen to be true. But the best excuse is always the truth itself — creative work is slower and more sacred in its unwillable transmissions from the muse than we ever like to…

Read More

At Home in Colonial Williamsburg with Anthony Baratta – Lifestyle Article

It was a childhood trip to Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia that started it all for designer Anthony Baratta. Inspired by the history, architecture and beauty of this 18th century living museum, Baratta developed his passion for history and design. Known for his bold, colorful, pattern-loving take on American style, it was not surprising that Williamsburg chose him to become their first Designer in Residence, inviting Baratta to live in the historic Palmer House and reimagine the circa 1750 residence as…

Read More

Iris Murdoch on Imperfection as Integral to Goodness and How the Beauty of Nature and Art Leavens Our Most Unselfish Impulses – Brain Pickings – Self Improvement Article

To recognize that there are infinitely many kinds of beautiful lives is to step outside the self, beyond its particular conceptions of beauty — which includes, of course, moral beauty — and walking beside it with humble, nonjudgmental curiosity about the myriad other selves afoot on their own paths, propelled by their own ideals of the Good. Such recognition requires what the great moral philosopher and novelist Iris Murdoch (July 15, 1919–February 8, 1999) termed unselfing — a difficult, triumphant…

Read More

Whitman’s Immortal Words, Illustrated in Stunning Cyanotype – Brain Pickings – Happiness Article

A charitable celebration of art, science, our shared belonging. By Maria Popova “Every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you,” Walt Whitman wrote in one of his profoundest verses, in a golden age of science and social change, yet an era at least as divisive as ours. The sentiment became a focal point for Figuring and inspiration for The Astronomy of Walt Whitman — the special pop-up edition of The Universe in Verse, taking place on Governors Island…

Read More

Rare, Arresting Illustrations for Edgar Allan Poe’s Short Stories by the Irish Stained Glass and Book Artist Harry Clarke – Brain Pickings – Personal Development Article

“I prefer the old fine-lined illustrations… I prefer Grimms’ fairy tales to the newspapers’ front pages,” the Nobel-winning Polish poet Wisława Szymborska wrote in her poignant poem “Possibilities.” Old fine-lined illustrations and classic tales that outgrim the newspapers’ front pages, twisting the grisly into the sublime, come together in a rare 1933 edition of Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination (public library), with illustrations by the Irish stained-glass and book artist Harry Clarke (March 17, 1889–January 6, 1931),…

Read More

At Home in Santa Barbara with Madeline Stuart – Lifestyle Article

Madeline Stuart may have come to her current career in design via a somewhat circuitous route, yet it is clear her stylish intellectual parents (designer mother and film director father) instilled in her all the tools she needed to create the meticulous, artistic interiors she is known for today. And while Madeline works on many large and impressive projects for her clients, nowhere are her abilities more evident than in the charming one bedroom Santa Barbara bungalow she renovated for…

Read More

“Mood and Energy and Self-Care Are a Huge and Under-Appreciated Part of Creativity.” – Happiness Article

Interview: Chase Jarvis. Chase Jarvis is an award-winning artist, entrepreneur, and one of the most influential photographers of the past decade. He has created campaigns for Apple, Nike, Red Bull and others, was a contributor to the Pulitzer-winning New York Times story “Snowfall,” and earned an Emmy nomination for his documentary Portrait of a City. He also created “Best Camera”—the first photo app to share images to social networks, and is the founder of CreativeLive, where more than 10 million…

Read More

At Home in San Patrignano – Lifestyle Article

It’s not often that a casual conversation on social media leads to discovering a remarkable community where the art of fine craftsmanship has been saving lives for more than 40 years. But San Patrignano is an exceptional place where addiction recovery meets the best of sustainable luxury. Last year, I received a message on Instagram from @wallpaper_sanpatrignano (one of the accounts for the design lab division of San Patrignano) relaying how they followed my blog and loved Susanna’s and my videos.…

Read More

Hendricks: The Liquid Circus – Capital Lifestyle – Lifestyle Article

Come one, come all to mark World Cucumber Day. Yes you read that right… world cucumber day is a thing and you need to get into it.   Hendricks holds cucumbers to a very high standard, infusing it into their gin, creating a day for it, making it the star of their ads and center of their brand. They do not take the cucumber for granted. World Cucumber Day was just another excuse for us to celebrate Gin O’clock.…

Read More

At Home in Locust Valley with Jeffrey Bilhuber – Lifestyle Article

Designer Jeffrey Bilhuber‘s greatest talent may be informing the past with a bold confidence that feels just right for today. And nowhere is this more palpably personal than in his own country house in Locust Valley, New York. Here in Hay Fever, his 17th century farmhouse, Jeffrey has melded the best of American design history with his own family furniture and heirlooms for his distinctive and informed take on decor. Tag along with Susanna Salk and me for a behind…

Read More