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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: March 13, 2012 @ 10:18 pm

    Culture shots: Hidden da Vinci, keeping it country and fumbles in the dark

    Laurence Mackin

    Art history: Few stories make more appetising reading than uncovered artworks – and when the work in question is by Leonardo da Vinci, the headlines write themselves. So the news this week that researchers in Florence may have found a wall mural by the Renaissance master whipped around the world in minutes. But the details are fascinating and raise all sorts of ethical questions for historians and art curators.

    The painting in question is The Battle of Anghiaria; the main problem is that it is possibly hidden behind an existing fresco by Giorgio Vasari. Samples of the hidden mural were taken through cracks and gaps in the existing fresco, and they are consistent with pigments used by da Vinci – but they are also consistent with pigments used by his contemporaries, so this is encouraging rather than definitive evidence.

    Leonardo, not earlier today

    Maurizio Seracini, an Italian engineer from the University of California at San Diego, is one of the people working on the research, and, in a move that Dan Brown would be proud of, he was partly inspired to look behind Vasari’s painting, as a tiny flag in it contains the tiny legend “Cerca, trova” (“seek and you shall find”). Vasari was a well-known Renaissance biographer, and as such is unlikely to have destroyed any work by da Vinci. Though why he would see to hide it if he knew it was there is unclear.

    Creativity: Last weekend’s Offset 2012 was a thrilling creative occasion – sitting in the auditorium listening to the phalanx of speakers, you could almost hear the thousands of projects bubbling away in each delegate’s creative brain. It’s Nice That, a cracking magazine and website that focuses on all things creative, has compiled a short and punchy list of 10 lessons from Offset 2012 drawn from the lectures. Check it out. And while you are at it, you could read this article from last week’s Irish Times Arts pages, where some of the Offset speakers discuss who and what inspires them.

    Deadlines: Artists love them, don’t they? Oh. Well they’ll like this one. The Absolut Fringe is closing applications for the festival this Friday, March 16th. The theme this year, it’s 18th, is “Creative Disruption. Playful Protest. Joyful Abandon.” (their punctuation, not mine). Click here to see your creative vision come to life. Or if you just like filling out forms.

    Funding clinics: Also on the deadline front, the Arts Council is about to close the shutters on many of its bursary and awards applications, and it is holding a series of information clinics to help applications. There was one in Cork earlier this week, another takes place in Dublin on Friday, and the third clinic is in Galway on March 20th. No booking is required. A passion for paperwork is also not necessary.

    Have you seen this man? Us neither

    Keeping it country: There’s an informative piece on the Guardian about how Sade, the UK’s answer to Enya, has made more money than Adele in the US last year – it’s not that surprising, given that the reclusive pop star toured last year for the first time in ages. What’s really interesting in this piece is the complete list of Top 40 earners, and not for the fact that U2 is in second place, just behind someone called Taylor Swift. It’s that the list has a few names I’ve simply never heard of. Now admittedly mainstream country music is not an arena I dip my cowboy boots into often, but the fact that somebody called Kenny Chesney made more money than Lady GaGa came as a surprise. And who’s that in at number 17 with his Silver Bullet Band? Bob Seger! Stupendous.

    Film history: And to finish – a straight lift from the good people at OpenCulture.com. It’s 1994 and Quentin Tarantino and Jon Stewart are discussing film, culture and Tarantino’s new project – Reservoir Dogs (at one point, Stewart admits he has no idea who Sergio Leone is). The clip is from 1994. I remember the film coming out, because I had to sneak into the cinema to watch it, as I was still underage. This was made easier by the fact that my aunt worked at Dundalk’s Adelphi; this was a double-edged sword though, because she’d arrive in halfway through, torch beam of sanctity in hand, to make sure no shenanigans were taking place. Ah, you don’t care. You’ve already stopped reading to watch the clip. Carry on so.

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