David Bruce: The Coolest People in Art — Problem-Solving, Royalty


• Al Capp, the cartoonist of Li’l Abner, was a master at keeping his audience interested in his comic strip. He always made sure that the storylines of his comic strip ended on Wednesdays. That way, he had a few days to build up audience interest in a new storyline before the Sunday hiatus. Mr. Capp once explained, “If I ended one on a Saturday, millions of my readers would have nothing to worry about over the weekend and would forget me and turn to Popeye.”

• Architecturemagazine once hired Margaret Bourke-White to take some photographs of a new schoolhouse that was being constructed. She looked over the scene, but although the schoolhouse was impressive, the rubbish of construction marred its location. No problem. She cleared away what rubbish she could, then visited a florist shop to buy flowers to stick in the muddy ground and make it look attractive.

• The Renaissance painter Raphael (1483-1520) was supposed to paint the first floor of the palace of his friend Agostini Chigi, but Raphael fell in love and because of the time he spent wooing his lady love, his friend despaired of ever having his palace painted. Fortunately, Mr. Chigi solved the problem by having Raphael’s lady love move into his palace until the painting was completed.

• Impressionist painter Claude Monet wanted to paint a large canvas measuring eight feet by seven feet. Normally, this would not be a problem, but Monet wanted to paint it outdoors, and he had to figure out a way to reach all parts of the canvas. Eventually, he dug a trench in the ground so that he could raise or lower the painting as needed.

• In 1977, Pop artist Andy Warhol attended a dinner given at the White House by President Gerald Ford. Mr. Warhol wore a formal white jacket and pants, and a white tie. Because the dress pants itched, underneath them Mr. Warhol wore a pair of blue jeans.


• When Queen Hatshepsut ruled ancient Egypt, it was the world’s most powerful nation. When her father, Thutmose I, died without a male heir, she married her half brother, as was common in Egypt’s royal family then, and they ruled Egypt together. Her husband, Thutmose II, died after ten years of marriage, and his son by a concubine became Pharaoh Thutmose III. He was still a child, so Queen Hatshepsut became regent of Egypt. However, after seven years as regent, she named herself the King of Egypt. Because males dominated ancient Egyptian society, and because she wanted to reassure the ancient Egyptians that the kingship was in good hands, Queen Hatshepsut made sure artists portrayed her as a man. Ancient Egyptian works of art show her wearing the false beard that pharaohs wore, and they show her without breasts. She was also called “His Majesty,” although ancient scribes sometimes referred to her as “His Majesty, herself.” Most Egyptologists give her high marks because during her twenty-year reign Egypt was both prosperous and peaceful.

• Celebrity photographer Richard Young was in Tangiers, Morocco, to shoot Malcolm Forbes’ 70thbirthday party. The morning after the party, Mr. Young learned that his flight back to London had been delayed. He saw King Constantine of Greece walking to his private plane, so he called to him, “Good morning, sir. Is there any chance of a lift back to London? I’m delayed.” The king waved to him, but kept on walking. The captain of the plane then approached Mr. Young and said, “King Constantine would love to give you a lift to London, but sadly he is flying to Austria.”

• Author and artist Edward Lear, of A Book of Nonsensefame, once gave a series of art lessons to Queen Victoria. Of course, coming from a family who had been royalty for a very long time, she had many, many portraits and other works of art hanging in the palace. One day, she took Mr. Lear on a tour of the palace, showing him many of the works of art there. He was amazed at such a wealth of art and exclaimed, “Oh! Where did you get all these beautiful things?” Queen Victoria replied, “I inherited them.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



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