Oct 222015

To become a Rembrandt scholar you need to pass out top of a prestigious course in art history. They are the crème della crème; but they are gravely mistaken about Rembrandt and resist correction no matter what the evidence for revision. This article is designed to convince you they need to be replaced. They will not renew themselves.

They have in fact stood Rembrandt on his head. Reversing his significance of perhaps the world’s most perceptive observer. They seek to persuade us that he worked largely from imagination. I believe that I have demonstrated this to be a fundamental mistake, yet they will not budge. As a simple example see my “Isaac Refusing to Bless Esau” on YouTube. I expect you will agree with me that Rembrandt was at his best as an observer.

Esau and Isaac

Click to play video

This disagreement as to whether Rembrandt relied on observation or invention is a fundamental error, which invalidates large areas of recent scholarship. An error from which Rembrandt scholarship is suffering and has suffer since 1922 at when this important drawing was dismissed – important because it shows us Rembrandt’s strengths and weaknesses. Because I accept the weakness I can believe in over 2,000 drawings by Rembrandt but the scholars’ refusal leads them to accept only 500! His position as a culture hero has fallen proportionately in my life time.

I find it very easy to win the observation argument, so I well understand why the scholars refuse to debate the point in public. Choosing instead to undermine my examples in their private world of scholarly publications so they can continue with their folly undisturbed. I have described the scholarship of Rembrandt drawings as “an unmitigated disgrace” for the following reasons:-

1. My paradigm changing discovery of Rembrandt’s Use of Models and Mirrors in 1974 has been neglected. These findings were published in the Burlington under that title in Feb.1977 (two eminent art historians, Prof. Sir Ernst Gombrich and Dr J. Montagu were thanked for their help in presenting my findings in that article). A similar article was published in Rembrandthuiskroniek vol.1 1978. In both I believe I proved, beyond reasonable doubt, that Rembrandt used groups of live models for himself and his students to work from. This idea is anyway corroborated by contemporaries of Rembrandt; what was all that theatrical wardrobe for if not to produce his groups? (an extensive wardrobe and props is seen in the inventory of his belongings taken in 1656.)
2.Recent Rembrandt scholarship has neglected the historical record, indeed reversed the known facts.
3. Over a period of 90 years they have apparently unanimously accepted this reversal, neglecting an abundance of evidence that should have warned them off. They do this in order to maintain their mistaken ideas of Rembrandt’s development as a draughtsman and his relationship with the school production; they have  substituted theoretical iconography where practical observation explains the school works better. These sins have suffocated the educational atmosphere of art history. The Rembrandt catastrophe could not have happen without unquestioning acceptance of the professor’s dictate.
4. The scholars refuse to discuss and continue with the destruction of Rembrandt in the face of overwhelming evidence of their folly – or worse.
5. As a sculptor of 60 years experience, I find their judgments often outrageous.

May 222015

I have discovered a number of truths missed by art history which have been vehemently resisted by both artists and art historians. I regard them as important because they explain how some important advances in perception were made. I explain the resistance by the fact that recent generations in both disciplines obviously regard them as cheating: they are the use of mirrors by painters and life-casts by sculptors.

Photography has been used by painters since its invention but this also is regarded as a bit of a cheat. Nonetheless, most of us would agree that we understand the movement of a galloping horse better since photographs fixed the movements for us. Degas also used photography to fix the space in compositions of friends who, for convenience, probably posed for the work one at a time. Before photography Velasquez used a mirror for the same purpose in his masterpiece “Las Meninas”. This work is not only a personal masterpiece but is often regarded as the “epitome of painting”. The evidence for this discovery is overwhelming; the fall of light, the reversal of the image, quite apart from the fact that Velasquez at the age of 56 achieved this entirely untypical masterpiece more swiftly than ever before.

Should not todays painters know of this useful technique? Do we scoff at Galileo because he used a telescope or Pasteur because he used a microscope? Why do we allow science to use technology but not artists?

In fact most of my discoveries demonstrate that many important advances in art were the result of the use of technology: The naturalism which developed in classical Greece between 500 BC and 450 BC was based on life-casting. It broke the traditional Kouroi mould that had lasted nearly 3000 years. Brunelleschi invented scientific perspective by the use of a burnished silver mirror. Velasquez advanced the depiction of space by the use of a much larger mirror and Vermeer captured light by the use of two mirrors. Technology advanced art as it did science. What is the problem?

Like many artists of my generation I believe in the training of observation. This is usually achieved by a combination of practice and a number of tricks to bypass the overwhelming habit of the human brain to abstract and categorize the information that comes to us through our senses. Those of us who had the benefit of a traditional training in art learned to catch the patches of coloured light that came our way  and meditate upon them before the brain substituted a word for sensations. Cezanne described his activity accurately when he advised artists to pay attention to their sensations. Traditional artists are interested in milking the whole meaning from their sensations where average perception is content with the minimum necessary for everyday life. Life becomes richer through such art. With the modern view, which has turned its back on observation, life becomes less rich.

We need to recognize that technology has often advanced perception both in science and art. If only to regain the lost confidence that the “miracles” invented by art history have squashed.

Nov 292014

nkonstam@verrocchio.co.uk
tel 0039-0577-948312 fax –399
www.saveRembrandt.org.uk

to The Greek & Roman Dept.
The British Museum
cc. Sir Neil MacGregor
my blog
Nov 14th 2014

Dear Sirs,
I was shocked to see that the ear lobes of Hadrian (room 70) had been ‘restored’. I made an analysis of how this portrait was copied into marble which was published in Apollo Magazine Aug. 1972. Since then I developed the idea of the two traditions of European form making: the Greek and the Roman, the latter of which relies on three dimensional geometry such as I demonstrated in the Apollo article. This is elaborated again in my book “Sculpture, the Art and the Practice” (Collins sold 7000 copies). The second edition is still in print in which I report on my discoveries in Greece, prompted by The Riace Bronzes, (now published by Verrocchio Arts). Furthermore, the Roman tradition, which is little understood by art historians, is central to my ebook on Rembrandt, found at www.nigelkonstam.com
It is disappointing that there is so little exchange between the historians and the practitioners of art that these publications have escaped the notice of your staff. They have repaired the chips in both of Hadrian’s ears which constitutes the clearest demonstration of my thesis: that three dimensional geometry was used and loved by the Romans and many great artists since (Rembrandt owned 30 Roman portraits and filled two books with drawings of them).
May I hope that the masking of an intrinsic and important detail of the manufacture of the original will be  removed as soon as possible.
Yours truly,

Nigel Konstam, sculptor
ps I enclose a brochure on The Museum of Artists’ Secrets, now known as The Research Centre for the True History of Art. I would be very pleased to show you round.

Nov 292014

Was Rembrandt reliable? It is worth asking this question because scholars have assumed that Rembrandt was by nature consistent. Otto Benesch, the cataloguer of his drawings claimed that he could recognise the date of Rembrandt’s drawings “to within one or two years, three at most”. If Benesch was right, Rembrandt must have been consistent to a very rare degree. I find him unreliable, I agree with Gary Schwartz “the study of Rembrandt has much to gain from the serious consideration of the negative criticisms voiced by his contemporaries.” and they do not find Rembrandt at all reliable or consistent. Benesch’s error is pure wish-fulfilment that has alas, resounded with his heirs and followers.

By his study of the documents Schwartz brings into question many aspects of Rembrandt’s character that suggest his untrustworthiness. He was struck out of his sister’s will and his wife’s will, he was never asked to be godfather to a child, “he himself sabotaged his career” says Schwartz – I take all that on board. I think you will find below good reason to view Rembrandt’s behaviour as highly erratic.

Supreme self-confidence does not sit well on the shoulders of an artist. Though his confidence in his own judgement contributed to his ability to push art in the direction of truth before conventional beauty; it has earned him everlasting fame for very good reason but it caused no end of trouble in his life-time.

Von Sandrart tells us that Rembrandt “had no understanding of the importance of social rank…. it is certain that had he been able to keep on good terms with everyone and look after his business properly” he would have made a fortune. Baldinucci writes that “not even the foremost monarch on earth could gain an audience” but would be sent away until Rembrandt had finished his work. The Prince of Orange had to wait fourteen years for the last of his Passion series. The painting arrived still wet and the Prince paid only half the asking price. The Sicilian nobleman for whom Rembrandt painted several portraits sent back two complaining that he had bought work from Italy’s most famous painters and never paid so high a price nor received work so ill completed (his portrait of Alexander the Great was sown together from four pieces of canvas).

Rembrandt’s dealings with commoners took a similar pattern. His quarrels with his first mistress and with Saskia’s family after her death show us a man who was deeply lacking in diplomacy to say the least. There are stories of him painting the corpse of his dead monkey into a commissioned family portrait and keeping the painting rather than removing this nasty, unwanted addition. There are constant complaints from his contemporaries such as “he did not finish his paintings properly – it is rare to find in Rembrandt a well painted hand – his female nudes were such pitiful things that they are hardly worth mentioning” etc. Rembrandt answered these criticisms with “a picture is finished when the artist has expressed his intentions in it”. It is this clarity about his intentions and their revolutionary nature that makes Rembrandt such an important example to artists. His female nudes are not idealized as was expected at that time. They were shockingly true to life.

All this evidence needs airing. On occasion I think Schwartz has taken an over-negative view of the evidence. For instance he says of Rembrandt’s relations with his students “the few stories that have found their way into the sources are not heart-warming at all.” He also finds Rembrandt humourless and miserly. Houbraken tells stories which suggests quite the opposite to me: Rembrandt comes upon a scene where his students are eavesdropping on another student and his model locked together in the student’s room. He overhears him say “here we are naked like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden” at this point Rembrandt bangs on the door and shouts “Because you are aware of your nakedness you must come out of the garden” and then chased them down the stairs with his stick, I guess as theatre, because “they scarcely had time to dress as they fled”. On other occasions students painted coins on the floor in order to see him stoop to pick them up. This suggests to Schwartz that Rembrandt was over attached to his money. To me It confirms that he had a playful relationship with his students some of whom stayed with him for many years though he charged twice as much for an apprenticeship as his rivals. There are many references to Rembrandt’s generosity in lending objects from his theatrical wardrobe to painters who needed them, in paying over the odds for works by his contemporaries to boost their value and paying extravagantly for works of art generally. When he had money he certainly threw it about. His great house proved much more than he could afford but that was as much bad luck as bad judgement; he lived through a severe recession.

Rembrandt changed the course of art. He seemed so completely immune to criticism that it might help us to understand him better to take these aspects of his character into consideration. If scholars realized they were dealing with a man who exhibits many of the symptoms of Bipolar behaviour, they might treat him more kindly and abandon their efforts to normalize him. They want him to be consistent, he was not; and we cannot understand him unless we take his inconsistencies into account. Some were psychological and some were physical. The difference between Rembrandt’s drawing direct from life and when he relied upon a dim reflection in a polished metal surface, or even worse when he relies on imagination, is very obvious but at present overlooked by the experts. (for examples, see my ebook www.nigelkonstam.com)

These stories and complaints should surely alert us to the fact that Rembrandt, great painter as he is, was not an entirely reasonable human being. As George Bernard Shaw noted – “The reasonable man adapts….All progress depends on the unreasonable man”

I am no psychologist I would like to hear what professionals thinks of this evidence. Rembrandt’s behaviour, his output, his charisma and his supreme self-confidence all seem to me to point to manic-depression.

Jul 022014

At 81 my dream of being able to restore Rembrandt to his true status is fading. I have done all I can to inform a new generation of how to go about it in my book and on YouTube. What I have been unable to achieve is the training of fresh minds and eyes to see Rembrandt as I see him. Though I have advertised courses at the Centro d’Arte Verrocchio no one has enroled. However, I feel my ship is coming home and the offer of training still stands.

There have been a number of unacknowledged victories over the years and two major ones just recently: The National Gallery has reinstated their Adoration of the Shepherds, dismissed by the RRP. Second, Van der Wetering, once leader of the RRP has welcomed back the National Gallery’s Old Man Sitting in a Chair as “a very important painting”. I vigorously opposed its deattribution at the time. I feel sure that my YouTube demonstration of “The Adoration” must have convinced someone with clout at the NG. It is still not reattributed by the RRP as far as I know.
I was the first to condemn Isaac Joudeville as a contender to have painted early Rembrandt portraits. Christopher Brown followed my lead and Joudeville has not been heard of since. (Johannes Raven has taken his place with even less to recommend him as a draughtsman.) I also insisted that Rembrandt’s Wallace self-portrait, nasty as it is, was still genuine. All of which are now accepted as true. We are just waiting for the landslide of 1000 Rembrandt drawings to return to the fold. This must happen when the scholars recognize that his contemporaries knew what they were talking about when they said such things as “ he would not attempt a single brush-stroke without a living model before his eyes” (A.Houbraken)

Here is further advice to the new generation
1. Be very skeptical of the old guard in every respect.
2. Try to get the cooperation of Scotland Yard (or similar) to check ink, paper and handwriting. (A list of instances will follow.)
3. Get an artist admirer of Rembrandt to teach you drawing every day till satisfied that you have got the point. Then once a weak, at least.
4. Study my film on Hadrian and the influence of Roman portraiture on Rembrandt and many others.
5. Study my criticism of Raphael.
6. Expect from Rembrandt observations of life as it is, definitely not idealized.
7. Beware of hubris and rigidity. Rembrandt is very varied, perhaps bipolar.

Dec 132012

I finally received the answer to my letter to the Getty. (see below) It did not surprise me. I have been receiving such refusal from art historians to discuss since I made my Rembrandt discoveries in 1974. The first was from Christopher White, who was then in charge of Rembrandt’s drawings at the British Museum. (He had written a good book on the etchings.) He did not commit himself in writing but after sitting on my first article for over a month he told his colleague, who had assisted me in composing the article, “that it would be very important if Konstam could prove it.” To a scientific mind it was proven then; as far as is possible to prove anything of this nature.

The Burlington Magazine refused my article until E.H.Gombrich called a governors’ meeting at which it was suggested that he should help me re-write it, which he did. The article was then accepted by Benedict Nicholson the editor, who wrote “I find it of the greatest possible interest and so I am sure will Rembrandt scholars, who must now get down to revising the corpus of  drawings.” The appalling revision that has taken place since then has been in the opposite direction to that I proposed.

Pieter Schatborn (recently of the Rijksmuseum) who master-minded the Getty show, translated my second artictle into Dutch. It was printed in Rembrandthuiskroniek (1978) but he has taken no notice of its contents since. I spent an evening with him in his flat taking him through the contents of the book on Rembrandt that I was preparing. He was unable to produce any counter arguments.

My agents informed me that Phaidon had accepted my book “with the whole editorial board behind me” knowing how controversial it was. They only awaited a reader’s report. When it came it was so damning Phaidon dropped the project and ran. On first reading I was shaken myself but on looking into the report I realized it was nothing more than a  cunningly concocted swindle. Thirty years later I am still looking for a brave enough publisher.

After a perfectly reasonable exchange of letters with Martin Royalton Kisch, who had succeeded White at the British Museum, he gave me a hefty thumbs down in his catalogue of Rembrandt Drawings (having entirely ‘misread’ my analysis of two drawings of Rembrandt’s first mistress). I countered with three newspapers (The Save Rembrandt Campaigner) and a showing at St Martin’s in the Fields, to try to get my viewpoint heard at the time of the theoretical debate 1991 “Rembrandt and his Workshop”.

The National Gallery (London) actually took the microphone from me (on the orders of Christopher Brown, then keeper of Dutch paintings there) because I asked to show three slides which would have put an end to their novel and destructive viewpoint. The educated public having suffered from the teachings of The Rembrandt Research Project (RRP) since 1969,  can probably no longer remember the greater Rembrandt. (The RRP and their followers in the departments of drawings have reduced the accepted Rembrandt works by over 50% because of their misguided ideals in art.)

When I asked The National Gallery for space to present an alternative view at that time I got an almost identical letter as that from the Getty. The BBC  has refused to take any further interest after they discovered how my view of Rembrandt upsets the establishment. My view happens to be in complete accord with the known opinion of Rembrandt’s contemporaries. Other publishers and broadcasters have followed suit. For further interest I have scanned similar letters from the RRP and from E.Havercamp Begermann (Yale).

I gave a talk at Harvard  in 1978, which fell on deaf ears. I thought the many doctoral students there would go back to their books and see the sense of my view. Alas, many of that large audience will have been teaching the standard guff  on Rembrandt ever since. The guff is absurdly complicated, Rembrandt is easy to understand if you get the fundamentals right. Rembrandt was the great sign-post for artists saying observe, observe , observe “anything else was worthless in his eyes”.

This controversy between Rembrandt the observer and Rembrandt the inventor, has been successfully swept under the rug  since 1974. Though I have had a few successes at the Wallace Collection and recently The National Gallery where Rembrandt’s  “The Adoration of the Shepherds” rejected by RRP has now been replaced as a Rembrandt, where it belongs. (see YouTube for Konstam saying yes it is, and the National Gallery saying no, it isnt.)

It is difficult to escape thinking that art historians perhaps resent the intrusion of an artist into their private kingdom. Art History belongs to artists and the public at large, we need to get it straight. Look at what has happened to painting since the down-grading of Rembrandt. This is our culture in headlong decay!

I have made several similarly important discoveries in the field of art history and archaeology which have been similarly neglected. Best known is the role of life-casting in ancient Greek sculpture, which featured in the film Athens II as well as the Oxford Journal of Archaeology. The full story can be found in the second edition of my book Sculpture, the Art and the Practice.

Dec 132012

Copy of Reddit Article

The brain of Man has undergone a transformation since we painted the caves.  “In the beginning was the word” the invention of speech was the beginning of that transformation. Speech, number, geometry and mechanics are the chief abstract categories that rule and blinker our perception of the world. They are so useful that they have all but obliterated the rich variety of messages that our animal senses bring us.

It was the chief task of the visual arts to re-examine and extend the interface between the abstract quality of our mindset and the rich variety of the world out there. Traditional artists working from nature and humans soon become aware of  how inadequate are our mental images. We know we are burdened with a brain that wants to reduce the world to abstractions. The process of observation brings our abstracting mindset to confront the actual. Each search for understanding
developed  by an artist becomes in itself “form”.

The word ‘form’ is generally used to  mean three dimensional shape. In art it has another set of  meanings. It is also used to mean that which is formalized, or form in the sense of “sonnet form”: a mould into which any number of ideas or feelings can be poured. It can mean manners in the sense of “good form”; manner in the sense of the “Classical manner” which is derived from classical Greek sculpture. It  has a structural meaning in the coordination of parts to make a meaningful whole. “Form” can be used to describe a number of conceptual schemes, it is not just meat.

In fact the recognition of form was the chief aim of an education in art. Form is an amalgam of all these ideas and has come to mean that emphasis that comes about from an artist’s interpretation of nature: the aspects the artist particularly wants us to see as important.

Traditional art attempts “to hold a mirror up to nature”. Since the invention of photography this activity has become less rewarding because the camera does this so well. But there is another aspect to the best traditional art which we could describe as the mental digestion of nature; art can be the interface between our habitually abstracting mind and the richness of nature. Art stretches the mind to comprehend more. Around 1904 Art became more conscious of form but recently unconscious.

An art rooted in tradition has the huge advantage of being able to strikes chords in the mind and evoke emotion because of it’s relation to a depth of human experience, recorded and evolving through history. It is our cultural inheritance. The evolution of art is an important part of our appreciation of the visible. As we moved away from the hunter-gatherer, where awareness was all important, we have come to rely on art to keep our senses alive. Without observed art we lose touch with the wealth of what is out there in the world; we receive it less fully, we become less human.

Music and poetry have forms also. In a recent review, a poet was praised for her “impressive formal range… an England rooted in Nature of Chaucer, Shakespeare,Wordsworth and John Clare.” Though I have no ear for poetry I understand what this means because it is similar to visual form, and refers to that cultural inheritance as above.

For instance, in my own experience my love of Rembrandt’s drawings was considerably deepened by visiting a show of Giacometti’s drawings. Giacometti had consciously or unconsciously used space clues similar to Rembrandt’s, his primary focus is on space. Rembrandt, like most draughtsmen, mainly focuses on the solid figures but it is the space between the figures that makes them so meaningful. In my view it is crucial to understand this aspect of Rembrandt’s form. The scholars’ study of style (the mere marks he made) has led the “experts” very far from the Rembrandt recorded by his contemporaries; he has been much diminished by recent scholarship and his philosophy: the primary importance of original observation, has been turned upside down.
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Two main lines of development in the form of western art can be seen. That derived from the Greek sculpture is easily recognised in the lay figure which was present in every academic studio. It is epitomized by the work of Raphael but was generally used during the Italian Renaissance and in academic art since.

The Roman is derived from the survey techniques that Roman sculptors used for transferring their work into the permanent medium of stone. It is based on solid geometry as a pattern to compare with nature. The Roman needs to be distinguished from the Greek because it operates with a different syntax. The Roman is more analytical and therefore better adapted to sharpening observation. Each artist gives the tradition  a nudge in the direction of their own personal philosophy. Rembrandt used Roman form when he observed; and Greek on those rare occasions when he had to invent: his flying angels for example.

I have made a short film to explain the high points in the development of form with appropriate images (URL). I regard Rembrandt as the greatest humanist draftsman because he realized that the space between two people expresses as much or more than their individual gestures or facial expressions. He developed the Roman form to incorporate space as well as solid.

My rediscovery that Rembrandt deployed groups of live models so as to find the maximum expression and then drew observing the space with the same attention as the solid bodies is contrary to the modern belief among art historians. They refuse to abandon their mistaken belief that imagination is superior to observation in art. Imagination as commonly understood means drawing out of ones head, often no more than construction by formula. Rembrandt understood that the intimate, meaningful space between two figures cannot be constructed, it is too subtle. It has to be observed. This is the secret of his psychological and dramatic gift.

The teaching of form goes through periods of development and decay. Sadly ours is a period of such decay that many young artists have missed ‘form’ in this special sense in their artistic education. They are deprived of that sense of brotherhood with former artists that sustains and supports a living tradition. As a consequence we are losing contact with nature and with the great tradition of seeing as exemplified by recent Rembrandt scholarship. Art matters!

Note. The word form was crucial to artistic discussion before Wolfflin moved the goal posts with his book “The Principles of Art Hisrtory”(1915). He had no conception of the artistic use of the word form.

Nov 162012

I am so pleased to have found this website, so full of mavericks like myself. I am a sculptor, nearly 80 years old. I would like to tell you my experience. I may be one of the last generation to receive a training in the observation of form: that illusive abstraction that can help us to understand what is going on out there in the world.

To see form was the whole point of our education and had been for the previous three millennia. Novelty as such, was not part of our ambition; we hoped to give the world new vision, or at least a new emphasis, by adjusting the tradition in some significant way. I looked to Brancusi and Giacometti as examples in this. Through Giacometti I came to see Rembrandt more clearly. This concept of working within a tradition seems to have been lost.

I was a part of the majority of my fellow students in regarding Rembrandt as the one great master who spoke to us directly: the master of form that expressed the movement of the human spirit in the physical world more clearly than any other. He was also number one on the charts of market-value. How radically things have changed since then. (He no longer appears among the top 30 in the charts.)

Art History was taught by the same bright artists who taught in the studios. We saw art as the interface between nature (the model who stood there all day) and the inadequate abstract quality of our own minds grappling to understand nature. The study of art history seemed to confirm that the high points of civilization were those that came to a new understanding of the visible world. We saw the progress towards that understanding as slow and intermittent. There were long periods of decay interrupted by short bursts of brilliant artistic activity such as the Italian Renaissance. The best periods seemed to go hand in hand with a break-through in scientific thought.

The perspective I gained from my education at Camberwell Art School has lasted a life time. I see myself as adding my own small morsel to the sum total of human understanding of the world. My enthusiasm has not waned but my perspective has divided me from the main-stream of art today.

It seems to me that the ‘art promotion machine’ has multiplied in size and power, due to the recent technological advance of colour television and printing, to a point where the artists themselves are no longer in charge. The machine has taken over! Tom Wolfe complained of the same critic-led art in “The Painted Word”. We have recently seen how over €21 million was paid for a painting whose informal design would hardly have raised an admiring eyebrow if seen on a rug 30 years ago. Art is about values, what will future generations think of ours? Our visual culture has sunk to a level unimaginable, since “The Painted Word”. We need a revolution in the way art is run and art history is taught. Art historians desperately need 80% input from artists.

The art promotion machine is largely manned by those trained in art history, they are aided and abetted by dealers, ad-men and critics. The machine makes a great deal of money, in which only a tiny fraction of  working artists take a small share. Over the last decade “The Jackdaw” magazine has been exposing truly amazing abuses in the way public art money is handed out in the UK.

The machine has sold us the idea of the avant-guard. We are invited to view it as the evolutionary “cutting edge” in art. But evolution normally relies on chaotic variety which is then selected by the forces of nature for survival or not. The variety exists in art today but the machine has taken upon itself the selection process and jealously guards the power that it gives. Artists or the public do not get a look in. Most will look at the art that has been promoted over the last 50 years with little enthusiasm. There exists an alternative to establishment art but you will not find it in the media or museums of modern art. The machine will not allow the competition that real evolution requires. The machine rules!

With the help of Sir Ernst Gombrich I published my discovery of Rembrandt’s use of mirrors (Burlington Magazine Feb.1977).  If heeded that discovery would simplify Rembrandt studies by demolishing most of the Rembrandt scholarship of the last 100 years. It would make a huge difference to his standing today. Modern scholars believe in only 500 drawings by Rembrandt, Otto Benesch’s Catalogue of 1957 published nearly 1400, I believe there are over 2,000 drawings by Rembrandt extant. This is backed by evidence that would be accepted in scientific circles but it is neglected or refuted by art scholarship. You will find my many criticisms on the internet. Please comment if you visit.

Further examples of the errors of art history are outlined below. For a fuller education come to my Research Centre for the True History of Art at Casole d’Elsa, near Siena, Italy. Courses are offered at The Verrocchio Arts Centre.

The following videos by Nigel Konstam came be found at
http://www.nigelkonstam.com/cms/index.php/youtube-videos-by-nigel-konstam

1. Nigel speaks to the BBC about his Rembrandt discovery in 1976

2. The two versions of “The Adoration of the Shepherds”, are both by Rembrandt

3. An obvious fake praised by Rembrandt scholars

4. Many brilliant Rembrandt drawings falsely attributed to Ferdinand Bol

5. A Canonical Rembrandt drawing of his mistress recently de-attributed

6. Verrocchio’s sense of structure

7. Vermeer’s method with 2 mirror + the camera obscura (3 parts)

8. Brunelleschi’s method of arriving at a scientific perspective

In preparation -

Life Casting and Bronze casting in ancient Greece

The two traditions of form in Europe

STOP PRESS
I have scored  a palpable hit recently: I am happy to report that the authorities at The National Gallery (London)  have returned their painting of “The Adoration of the Shepherds” to it’s rightful place among the Rembrandts. If you visit the two sites on YouTube dealing with that painting you will find a lady from the National Gallery explaining why their picture is not a Rembrandt and myself (Nigel Konstam) explaining why it must be a Rembrandt.

Jul 162011

The reform of art history is one of the most pressing needs of our civilization. The desperate errors of judgment that are being perpetrated by our art experts on a daily basis in both modern and ancient art must indicate that something is amiss. I have made more discoveries in the field of art history than anyone alive or dead, yet very few are interested in learning to see what I see. Rembrandt, the greatest humanist artist that has ever lived, is in serious danger of being eliminated from our cultural history.

Surely an artist has equal or better claims on the subject of seeing than an art historian. Observation is after all my daily practice as a sculptor. Whereas, to tell the truth, art historians seem much more interested in each others books than in the objects they claim to be studying. I have the huge advantage over the professionals that I come to those objects without the inbuilt prejudices with which art history blinkers its students. I have considerable practical knowledge in the case of sculpture, casting and drawing. In the case of painting at least I understand what an artist can produce from his unaided memory. The theories of art history are a sick joke in that respect.

During my lecture at Harvard I was told that “in the 17th century artists did not even need still-lives in front of them.” When I asked how they got that idea, the answer came back – certain flower paintings have flowers in them that do not bloom at the same season! I pointed out that flowers wilt, that flower painters pick their specimens one at a time – this caused consternation to all concerned.

This kind of nonsense was meant to justify the idea that Rembrandt did no need models to draw from. An idea that I could see was completely untrue in a ten minute flick through of his drawings. Equal research in the documents of those who actually knew Rembrandt confirmed my certainty that he set up groups of actors to draw from.

As a culture we have tolerated the steady destruction of the Rembrandt in the full glare of publicity, with few a murmurs of complaint. Wake up, you are living in a time of unprecedented descent into visual barbarism. If you are happy with myths stick with art history as it is; otherwise learn to see –

THE REFORM OF ART HISTORY is a 2 week course that will be run on demand from a quorum of 5. Lectures and discussion will be interspersed with practical drawing and sculpture.
Apply to nkonstam@ verrocchio.co.uk

Jul 162011

The museum consists of maquettes and instruments with which Nigel Konstam made a number of important discoveries in the field of art history and archaeology. There are also a number of DVDs and documents which explain the reasoning that made him determined to suggest reforms in those faculties. Artists should again take the lead in cultural decision making.

The subjects covered in the museum are in chronological order :- a
GREECE
1. The discovery that the Greeks used life-casting for their life-size figures from the time of Phidias onwards.
2. a chimney on the Acropolis in Athens, and another in Olympia.
3. a method of steaming moulds to recover 70% of the wax usually lost, used at Rhodes and almost certainly elsewhere.
ROME
Roman geometry had an enormous influence on subsequent art that is seldom acknowledged. The analysis of a portrait bust of Hadrian in the British Museum, demonstrates this geometry. Artists who have used it since, like Mantagna, Holbein, Rembrandt and Giacometti, are also represented in the museum.
SIENA
1an appreciation of the works of Rinaldo da Siena recently discovered under the cathedral.
2reasons why the so called Duccio Window cannot be by Duccio.
3 The discovery of the dimension of time in Simone Martini’s Madonna of the Annunciation.
4Lorenzo Maitani’s great work is on the facade of Orvieto Duomo 112sq m. of relief sculpture of very high quality. We have a film showing how he was able to accurately transmit his art to his assistants.

FLORENCE
1The probable use of a polished silver mirror in Brunelleschi’s essay in perspective.
2. The probable use of sculptural maquettes in conjunction with mirrors by Masaccio.
3.Michelangelo’s use of maquettes for preparatory drawings
4. Cellini’s casting method is demonstrated to be very close to the method of Phidias.

REMBRANDT’S use of live models and mirrors, indicating that his contemporaries knew a Rembrandt that modern scholarship has all but destroyed; an artist whose example is very important to artists who observe life today.
VELASQUEZ’ use of a large mirror from the Hall of Mirrors at the Royal Palace in Toledo for the composition and rapid completion of his most important masterpiece – Las Meninas
VERMEER’S use of two mirrors in conjunction with a camera-obscura as an aid for painting.