The Beauty of Art: Part 7 - The answers

Yes, the painting displayed in the Beauty of Art part 7 is indeed:
"De aardappeleters" (the potato eaters) by the Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh.

He painted it in 1885, saying he wanted to depict peasants as they really were. He deliberately chose coarse models that would look natural in his painting.

If you want to see the painting in real life, go to the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. It has once been stolen from there, but was returned shortly after for unknown reasons.

When I first saw it in Amsterdam, many, many years ago, I was surprised. The paintings I had seen by van Gogh before, were very different, like his painting of sunflowers:

or "Starry night" (one of my favourites!):

So, how does the painting of the potato eaters make you feel?

Heike said that she had never really liked the Potato Eaters that much. Not until she learned more about Vincent van Gogh at a lecture. When she did, the painting suddenly came alive.

The painting makes Michiel think about the differences in the world at that time - despair and hardship for the peasants, the potato eaters in the Netherlands, at the same time as a lot of things were happening in the wild west, with the gold rush just ending.

Staffan gave a great tip for those who want to learn more about the story behind the painting: Irving Stone's book "Lust for life".

Vincent van Gogh did indeed have a very special life and it is interesting to read about this artist who is considered a post-impressionist, just like Paul Cézanne, in Beatuy of Art part 3.

Vincent was very productive, painting some 900 paintings in 9 years. He struggled with his health and with money, but he kept on painting, as if he couldn't stop himself.

Some claim that to find the purpose of your life, all you have to do is think about what you always do. No matter how tough your life is, there is something you always do. When you remember what that is, you have found your purpose. For Vincent van Gogh this was clearly painting. Even though he received neither fame nor wealth during his lifetime, we are many who are happy that he did follow his heart's voice and created paintings that have impacted so many.

His life is also a reminder of the importance of always having someone by your side, someone who believes in you when no one else does. For Vincent this was his brother Theo, who after the death of his brother wrote:

"People should realize that he was a great artist, something which often coincides with being a great human being. In the course of time this will surely be acknowledged, and many will regret his early death.”
I hope Vincent has a lot of fun up there in the Starry sky. I bet he is painting there too.


The Beauty of Art: Part 7

In the Beauty of Art part 7, we are getting back to paintings, after a few quizzes about sculptures and photography.

I have chosen a less-known painting by a well-known artist.

What is the painting called?
Who is the artist?
What type of art is this?
Where can this painting be seen?

and, most importantly, how does it make you feel?

I am looking forward to your answers!


What would you do if you weren't afraid?

International Women's Day. What better way to draw attention to that, then by highlighting Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk from 2010? A talk that turned out to be a prelude to the book Lean In that later on became a best seller.

She shares three messages to women who want to stay in the work force:

  • Sit at the table
  • Make your partner a real partner
  • Don't leave before you leave

I find what she has said about this talk even more interesting than the talk itself. She was afraid to give it. She was afraid to talk about being a woman in the business world. I understand what she means. Do you?
"I grew up in the business world, as I think so many of us did. You never talk about being a woman, because someone might notice that you´re a woman.[...] Or worse, if you say "woman", people on the other end of the table think you´re asking for special treatment, or complaining. "
Since she felt uncomfortable about giving the talk, what made her do it in the end? She asked herself a question I think we can all ask ourselves a little now and then:
"What would I do, if I wasn't afraid?"
For Sheryl, the answer was: Give the talk.

What will the answer be for you? 
What would you do, if you weren't afraid?


The Beauty of Art Part 6 - the answers

It was our first summer in Spain. We escaped the heat in Madrid and went north to the Basque country. Bilbao is a major city there, a city that is complementing its industrial legacy with being a city of art.

We saw the sculpture I put in this quiz outside of the Guggenheim Museum. I am not particularly fond of spiders, but this one I found impressive.

Several of you knew the answers to this art quiz!

The sculpture is called Maman
The artist is Louise Bourgeois
The sculpture on the picture is outside of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but, as you pointed out, there are other versions of this sculpture in other places in the world as well.

The first one was made in stainless steel and put outside Tate Modern in London.

Marcus Leith and Andrew Dunkley, Tate Photography

In addition to the ones in London and Bilbao, there are sculptures of Maman at: 

The National Gallery of Canada
The Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan
Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art in South Korea
Crystal Bridges, Museum of American Art, Arkansas, USA
Quatar National Convention Center, Doha, Qatar

Sometimes these  sculptures are moved to other places for temporary exhibitions. It has been in Stockholm for instance.

The artist says she has dedicated the spider to her own mother:
"The Spider is an ode to my mother. She was my best friend. Like a spider, my mother was a weaver. My family was in the business of tapestry restoration, and my mother was in charge of the workshop. Like spiders, my mother was very clever."
You have also commented on the symbolism of the spider and motherhood, and many of you like that something normally so small is depicted so huge which is impressive and also a bit scary.

I like the mixture of the large size, the heavy metal and the light appearance of the spider, barely touching the ground with its the pointy feet. An impressive piece of art indeed. I am happy I had the chance to experience it that sunny day in Bilbao.


The Beauty of Art part 6

Here we go again, it is time for another Beauty of Art quiz!

Just like in part 4 I have chosen a sculpture.

It is quite big: 927 by 891 by 1023 cm to be exact.  Let me know what you know about it and what you think about it!

What is the name of the sculpture?
What is the name of the artist?
Where can this sculpture be found?
How does it make you feel?

A summary of your answers will be posted in the next blog post, including information about when and where I saw this sculpture.


Do women need to be stronger than men?

I recently listened to a documentary on Sveriges Radio P3, called Gamegirl. It is about Mia Westin, a girl who is succesfully playing Counter Strike and streaming herself while doing so. She has many followers and makes money on her stream.

Photo from the documentary in Sveries Radio P3

That is all good and well. But like so many women who are successfull, especially online, Mia receives a lot of sexistic and judgemental comments from men and women who dislike the way she looks, the way she acts, the way she is. Mia stated the following in the program:
"Som tjej tror jag det är tiotusen gånger viktigare att ha ett riktigt starkt psyke. Ha en bra självbild och tro på sig själv." (As a girl I believe it is ten thousand times more important to have a really strong psyche. To have a good self image and believe in one-self.)

Having listened to the documentary I can tell she has a strong psyche and she does not let the haters get to her. Her statement reminded me about what Charlotte Whitton once said:
"Whatever women do, they must do twice as well as men, to be thought half as good. Luckily, this is not difficult."

I agree that it is important for women to have a strong psyche.
I agree that it is harder for a women to be considered competent than it is for men. 

But that does not mean men can (continue to) be mentally weak. Secure and mentally strong men and women do not express hateful comments, they have no reason to pull others down.  The haters are the weak, insecure ones.

To reduce the hate, we need to reduce the fear, reduce the insecurity. We can do that each day, by letting the people around us, especially kids, know how great they already are.

Or, as Mahatma Ghandi put it:

The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear. 


It´s my birthday and I´ll write if I want to

If you are like me, or like Jenny in my debut novel, the title will make you hum, silently or out loud, the Lesely Gore hit: It´s my party and I´ll cry if I want to.

Well, it´s my birthday today, but I have no intention of crying. Actually I will be working all day and in the evening I will (I hope) get some home-baked semla from my husband and congratulations from friends and family.

On Saturday we will celebrate some more, and as "the birthday child" I will be able to do whatever I choose. I know exactly what I want to do.

Many people ask me how I find the time to write novels, being a mother of three and working full-time. And when I talk about the hours here and there that I use for writing, they re-phrase the question.
Hur orkar du?  (How do you find the energy?)
That question always makes me smile.

How do I find the energy to write? By writing. Doing what I really like doing, gives me energy.

So when my husband asked me several years ago (when the kids were smaller and needed more or less continuous attention) what I wanted for my birthday, my answer was simple: I want to have a full day to write.

This birthday I will write. If you are curious about what I am currently writing, take a look at Annikas Läsare: Writing.

It´s my birthday and I´ll write since I want to,
write since I want to, 
write since I want to.
You would write to, if you liked it like me!