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  • Stephen Shoel Wachtel

Updated: Oct 18, 2018


Prehistoric paintings can be found in a number of caves. Among the most notable are the Lascaux Caves in southern France which contain paintings estimated to be more than 17,000 years old, and the Chalet Cave, also in southern France, which contains paintings estimated to be 32,000 years old. Within these caves, one can find paintings of bulls, deer and horses. One of the bulls in the Lascaux complex is seventeen feet in length. My favorite cave is Altamira, found by a hunter in northern Spain in 1868. This is the first cave in which prehistoric paintings were discovered, but those paintings were believed initially to be fakes because of their quality. Their authenticity was finally accepted in 1902.

Pablo Picasso is said to have visited Altamira although there is no official record of his having done so. On leaving the cave, he is alleged to have said, “After Altamira, everything is decadence,” and, “None of us can paint like this.” I’m not sure about the decadence, but the artist(s) of Altamira were masters of their craft and I haven’t seen anything quite like their ochre, sienna and charcoal renditions come up in the last 10,000 years or so. 😇

  • Stephen Shoel Wachtel

Updated: Apr 11, 2018


Les Demoiselles d'Avignon by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 95-1/8 x 91-1/8 inches, Museum of Modern Art, New York

Picasso is to art what Einstein is to physics and I have great respect for both men — Einstein because he developed novel ways to understand reality, and Picasso because he found novel ways to paint it. Neither man was limited by school or style. While working as a patent examiner in 1905, Einstein rocked the academic world with his Special Theory of Relativity and two years later, Picasso shattered conventional norms with Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, a huge cubist rendering of five naked prostitutes, faces patterned after primitive African masks.

Although Einstein’s contributions have changed the world we inhabit — literally — one is no less blown away by the breadth of Picasso’s creativity. He was the inventor of modern cubism yet he painted standard portraits and landscapes and posters, and his canvasses embraced fauvist, neoclassical, realist and surrealist themes, and more. He was a tireless and prolific worker, producing nearly 2000 paintings, hundreds of sculptures and ceramics, and thousands of prints. This was a towering genius, surely the greatest painter of the twentieth century and perhaps the greatest in human history.

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  • Stephen Shoel Wachtel

Updated: Apr 10, 2018

Twilight on the Lake at Shelby Farms, Memphis. As the sun dips below the horizon in a burst of color, dozens of joggers run along the lakeside track and the ducks are unruffled. Off to the right and outside the frame, geese are nibbling at the grass, and a bit farther away, the local herd of bisons is enjoying the weather. In the future we will use this blog to discuss our work in progress, some of the methods we use to generate ideas and produce our canvasses, and ideas about the universe in general.

This photo begs a painting but there's so much to do and so little time. We're busy at present on a number of canvases -- cubist paintings and portraits and landscapes. Maybe this photo will inspire a landscape by someone else.


Ducks leaving the lake at Shelby Farms, Memphis TN


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