Dutch Master Painters

April 2, 2018    by Douglas Black

Apollo and Venus by Otto van Veen

If your interest is 400 year old artwork that is yet undiscovered, maybe a Dutch Master is for you.  One was recently found in an attic, the other has been hiding in plain sight for decades.

According to an Associated Press report, a painting found in the dusty attic of Des Moines’ historic Hoyt Sherman Place has turned out to be a big deal.

The painting, “Apollo and Venus” by late 16th Century and early 17th Century Belgium painter Otto van Veen, is believed to be worth millions of dollars.

Someone found the 400-year-old painting about two years ago while looking for Civil War flags.

Officials say the painting was coated with layers of discolored varnish and poor restoration work from decades ago.  Art experts spent four months returning the painting to its pristine appearance.

Another has been hanging on the wall of a family home in Pennsylvania since “God knows when,” says a friend of mine who’s studied it since he was a boy early last century.

Commodus as Hercules and Gladiator  by Peter Paul Rubens OR Otto van Veen
Commodus as Hercules and Gladiator by Peter Paul Rubens OR Otto van Veen

COMMODUS AS HERCULES AND GLADIATOR is the only one of the seven known paintings of Commodus which portrays the subject as a blond, fair complexioned warrior. Family provenance says that Peter Paul Rubens is the artist, although some scholars who have seen the work believe it may be that of Otto van Veen during the time Rubens was his student in 1590’s Antwerp.

The artist, whether it be Rubens or van Veen, represents Commodus in the manner of the heroic warrior-gladiator Hercules, his fair curly locks meticulously crimped as described by the contemporary accounts of Dio and Herodian.

This depiction gives us Commodus shortly before his assassination, his hair swept up and off the forehead, a glowing youthful appearance as florid as a twenty year old some ten years his junior at the time.

Old world style is making a strong come back among those who can afford to adorn their walls thusly, the rich gold and browns, the shadows, and the gloriously grizled faces a symbol of ties to ages of battles and losses long past.

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Douglas Black Douglas Black is a futurist, historian, writer and photographer in Chicago.

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Hypercar Will Drive Itself

March 8, 2018 GENEVA MOTOR SHOW

Rimac C-Two

The second offering from bespoke sportscar maker Rimac was unveiled in Geneva to gasps.  The Rimab C_Two can drive itself if you are too frightened.  And well you should be.

This 1,914-hp electric hypercar, a gull wing with face recognition that locks out strangers, will do 0-60 mph in LESS THAN 2 SECONDS!

Shut. Up.

With a top speed of 258, I am not sure if taking ones hands off the wheel is wise, but it will take over if you soil yourself and want to go home.

Just sayin’.

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Douglas Black lives and writes in Chicago.

Douglas Black

The Laurel Wreath of Empire

AmericusAugustusTrumpius

I typically shy away from political statements or positions in this blog, with the exception of climate science.  But today I feel compelled to speak my piece, and welcome shares or comments.

Donald Trump is not that smart.  I have known businessmen like him who were given far too much credit for cleverness and business savvy when their success was built upon a stratagem of unethical behavior, buying influence, and bullying.  Trump has taken this business model to the penultimate degree.  The only step higher would be empirical totalitarianism, and I believe if the Laurel Wreath of Emperor were within his grasp, Donald Trump would take it.

Our democratic system of government is at stake.  We must rely on our mechanism of government to at least clip the wings of dictatorship now, or at most, impeach the President and let V.P. Pence and Speaker Ryan hold the office for the balance of the term.

What do you think?

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bmw-cycle-selfie

 

Douglas Black is an historian, futurist, writer and photographer in Chicago.

Supercar Gallery – CAS2017

February 10, 2017   by Douglas Black

The Supercar Gallery at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show showcases some of the most elegant and exclusive bespoke medallions in Chicago.  My personal favorite? The Rolls-Royce Black Badge Wraith.  Compromise is not in our vocabulary.

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bmw-cycle-selfie Douglas Black is a futurist, historian, writer and photographer in Chicago.  He also writes historical fiction under the name Duke Pierce Reade, including the online serial anthology THE RED AND THE GOLD available at Channillo.com

2017 Chicago Auto Show

setting-up-cas17-marqueeOpening breakfast of the two-day media preview started with bacon, which is always a good way to begin for me.  The opening remarks by Jill Ciminillo, the new president of the Midwest Automotive Media Association (MAMA), lead me to believe I am not alone because she mentioned it twice.

The Head of Design-Global for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV (FCA), Ottawa born design genius Ralph Gilles, keynoted the breakfast meeting with a presentation that grabbed the attention of all in the room.  Usually these talks are full of facts and figures suited more for the investor meetings and boardroom thrashings by stakeholders, and are often boringly self-serving dribble.  Not this one.

Gilles talked Sci-Fi, AI, Sentience and Infinite Memory.  He tipped his hat to his competitors, like BMW and Tesla, and he tossed out questions like, “Have any of you yet heard of BINA48 Hanson Robotics?” then left it there with a teaser slide.  I will definitely look them up.

There were, of course, some facts and figures, and bragging on the new nameplates added to the FCA Group – Alfa Romeo and Maserati.  But it wasn’t just info dump, Gilles is head of design for these guys, too, and he said stay tuned for cool stuff for “a whole new generation” from Maserati.  I cannot wait.

JEEP is in an exciting space as well.  One on one Gilles told me he was very excited about the “dual personality of the new Renegade and the expanding personality of the Grand Cherokee” models.  One of the factoids thrown out was that overall JEEP sales have climbed from 497,000 units in 2008 to 1,200,000 in 2016.

 

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Dodge Durango SRT Unveiling

The Dodge Durango SRT, said Gilles, will be unveiled today.  Some already say it is one bad-ass machine, the “supercharged 7-passenger Charger that sounds like a muscle car”.  And speaking of Dodge, the passion of the MOPAR Car Clubs around the world are matched by the fervor of the Alfa Romeo fans, a factor in their acquisition of the nameplate.FIAT is looking into bringing its larger platform to the US market as the FIAT Toro truck is already #1 in Latin America, according to Mr. Gilles.

And then about the future, the designer had an awesome concept vehicle to talk about (the vehicle itself is on a slow boat to China for the Beijing Auto Show).  It began with a group of a couple dozen millennials picked by Gilles to answer, “What does your generation want?”  Answers came as questions like, Why do we need a grille if it’s electric, Why can’t we move the wheels out to the max if there’s no engine compartment, and Why won’t my car talk to me nicely?

PORTAL is something unlike any concept I have ever seen, a ‘third room’ of your living space, and the promotional video said it all with images, no words.  So I am just offering eye candy here.

PORTAL eye candy video on YouTube

Finally, no surprise, the MAMA Family Vehicle of the Year went to the Chrysler Pacifica, and after accepting the award for FCA-NA, Bruce Velisek, Director – Chrysler Brand at FCA Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, gave me the best sound bite ever – “the Pacifica makes parenting easier, and life better.  We’re making mini vans sexy again.”

 

Founded in 1991, and now in its 26th year, the Midwest Automotive Media Association comprises 278 automotive journalists and public relations professionals from 25 states, D.C. and Canada.  Jim Mateja, MAMA’s first president and automotive writer for the Chicago Tribune for over 45 years, recently passed away and was honored at the breakfast to a round of applause.

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bmw-cycle-selfie

 

Douglas Black is a futurist, historian, writer and photographer based in Chicago.  He also writes historical fiction under the name Duke Pierce Reade, including the online serial anthology THE RED AND THE GOLD found on Channillo.com

 

Cars You Want, Leading Edge and Bleeding Edge. And Other Automotive Stuff I Want To Talk About. ……. …From enerficiency On The Road, Douglas Black

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