Saturday, March 8, 2008

Julian Beever: His Street Art is a Many Splendored Thing

In the Renaissance in Florence the city fathers forbade under pain of prison to throw any waste matter such as urine and feces out of the windows. That was not only for sanitary and hygienic reasons, aesthetic reasons existed too. Sprigs of rosemary, sage. mint, laurel and lavender hung from every door. The smell emanating from these streets inspired others to imitate clean habits.

Inevitably, young artists who hoped to gain an apprenticeship with a great Maestro used the sidewalks as canvases and displayed their work in this way. It is said that the young Donatello, Cellini, Michelangelo, and Leonardo used this medium when they were but children.

Today a talented English painter, Julian Beever paints splendiferous works on everyday themes on pavements, on sidewalks and on streets.

His technique is known as anamorphism. One side of his painting is deliberately distorted. Viewed from a certain angle, he creates an incredible and breathtaking optical 3D effect. Yes indeed! Beever is a Master Illusionist. If I were the DOD - the Pentagon I would run to see his works.

Remember how Potemkin used optical illusions and cardbord and wood to fool the vicious enemies of the Russians during the period of Catherine the Great?

Bravissimo Julian Beever!!!

For more information about Mr. Beever and his work go to:

1 comment:

  1. And bravo to you for giving this talented guy's work more exposure.

    Now I've just remembered a historical peculiarity about the Italians, going all the way back to ancient Rome: the ancient Romans were incorrigible, almost maniacal grafitti artists, not only on streets and public walls but even on the interior walls and floors of their own houses. Even (or perhaps especially?) the Patricians
    of ancient Rome would paint, or write, on their own houses' interior walls.

    And today, some of the best grafitti artists in America are Latin Americans - descended from the Romans, if not by blood, then certainly by language and other peculiar patrimonies.

    Defacing or otherwise damaging public property is, and should be, a crime. But many kinds of such informal art actually beautify, actually improve their environments. Next time you, or any of your readers, visit Canterbury Cathedral, please visit the circa 1100 Norman crypt (the basement) in which you'll see medieval "cartoons" inscribed into the walls - not to mention names and dates inscribed across the centuries, for which we should be grateful now.

    And one of my favourite examples of this - well not of "art", but of a GOOD kind of graffiti - is Britain's Coronation throne, usually on display in Westminster Abbey. Take a close look and you'll see it has many names and dates carved into it - carved into it by naughty choirboys or monks or whomever had access to it for the past 700 years. Thus, when Elizabeth II (DGRFD) was coronated in 1953, the throne upon which she sat was covered by graffiti - unseen from a distance, mind you - carved into it by Commoners, by the People of the Land whose 2,000 (or more) year old history as a civilised country she represents - and she does nothing more than represent it (she does so very well, I think) as a civil servant.

    The Coronation Chair doesn't belong to any Monarch; it belongs to the Country, the Land, the People and their history. So I think it's very appropriate for it to be covered with centuries-old graffiti
    inscribed by Commoners. And similarly, the public streets belong to the People, like Mr Beever, to beautify in their very personal ways.


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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