Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bradley Cooper's Chef Poster, Emma Stone

Bradley Cooper’s majestic jaw-line, eyes, and – who am I kidding –entire face is worthy of at least a mini-standing ovation. But the poster for Adam Jones - which comes to us from Yahoo!- doesn’t reveal anything to us about the plot or the actor’s character. What’s he doing in the kitchen? Well he’s only set out to try and assemble the greatest culinary crew in history so that he can create the best restaurant this, or any galaxy, has ever seen.

The best thing that this film seems to have going for it really, is its cast – which is admittedly quite impressive. Bradley Cooper is consistently watchable, but Adam Jones has also assembled a rather nifty ensemble of exemplary actors. Not only will Fifty Shades Of Grey’s Jamie Dornan be joining Cooper in the kitchen (hopefully with his pants on), but Uma Thurman, Sienna Miller (Foxcatcher), Matthew Rhys (The Edge Of Love), Daniel Bruhl (Captain America: Civil War), Alicia Vikander (Ex Machina), and Lily James (Cinderella) are along for the ride as well. Still not convinced? Well, how about the cheeky addition of Emma Thompson then? Thought that would finally raise a smile. Because, let’s face it, Emma Thompson makes everything worthwhile.

Following his exploits while filming American Sniper, Bradley Cooper had to shed plenty of weight in order to portray Adam Jones and please director John Wells. And the above poster, for all of its averageness, does prove that Cooper is back to his trim-self. One tiny little issue that Bradley Cooper’s weight loss couldn’t solve though was the fact that Jon Favreau’s tantalizing Chef beat Adam Jones to its original title. This led John Wells and screenwriter Steven Knight (Eastern Promises, Locke, Peaky Blinders) to re-title the film "Adam Jones". Source:

Bradley Cooper's character falls for Emma Stone's in the upcoming romantic comedy Aloha – and the pair's chemistry translates off screen, as well. PEOPLE caught up with the pals in London for a story in this week's issue and asked what their most marketable assets would be if they were to craft Tinder profiles for one another. Apparently, it's all about the eyes!

Cooper, 40, got downright poetic talking about his costar's peepers: "[Her] reptilian eyes take you into a kind place, soft and lovely and full of grace." (Jokes Stone of their looks: "I’m a snake, he’s a lizard!")

For her part, Stone, 26, playfully reads even more into Cooper's baby blues – including takeout preferences – telling PEOPLE: "Look at those blue [eyes]. He's into Chinese food, but he's equally into making you smile." While they had some fun joking about it, both say they aren't on the dating app – though Easy A alum Stone has done some swiping of her own.

As for their love lives, Stone and boyfriend Andrew Garfield are on a break due to busy schedules, while Cooper was spotted kissing model Irina Shayk in London last week.

Aloha – in which Cooper and Stone appear alongside a starry cast including Rachel McAdams, John Krasinski, Alec Baldwin and Bill Murray – hits theaters May 29. Source:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Orson Welles' "The Stranger", Evolution of Noir

The Stranger (1946) is in some ways the most fascinating film of Orson Welles' career, and, yes, that is saying a lot. The film was one of the few out and out successes in Welles' famously turbulent directorial vocation, and it's not hard to see why. This is a film which bristles with implied menace in the same sort of way that Hitchcock's tonally similar Shadow of a Doubt does. What's so amazing about the film for those of us who like to analyze or indeed over-analyze things is how seamlessly Welles manages to keep pushing the directorial envelope even as he sacrifices nothing in the way of story momentum or apt characterizations.

This is a film as innovative in its own way as Citizen Kane was in terms of camera setups and framings. Over and over again Welles shoots around and literally through items that are in the foreground of the frame, as if daring the audience to look beyond the surface to the unseemly underbelly of what's going on. There's almost always something "unimportant" happening up front in setup after setup in this film, which in turn literally forces the viewer to look more deeply. Just as bracing is the brilliantly literate script by a number of co-writers (including an uncredited John Huston and Welles himself).

Though the film unfolds as a sort of mystery thriller, there's a surprisingly nuanced look at Nazi atrocities (including the first ever feature film inclusion of concentration camp newsreel footage) and the very beginnings of a sort of international complacency that was perhaps an overreaction to the decade of horror which had just passed. The dinner table scene in The Stranger is really a marvel of political debate, as Germany's reaction to its own post-War place in the world is examined within the confines of polite conversation.

If Loretta Young's Mary is perhaps too naïve to ever be a fully believable character, the actress herself is so completely luminous in this film that she overcomes any passing qualms. But the film is really all about the cat and mouse game between Welles and Robinson, and neither has been finer. Welles is able to be both perfectly suave and completely menacing, often simultaneously, and his slow descent into (perhaps further) madness is riveting. Robinson is stalwart and steady, in a way quite similar to the Spencer Tracy character coming up against a different kind of evil in Bad Day at Black Rock. Robinson, like Tracy, is the unassuming all American here, nobody's fool but not exactly the strapping hero type, either. This is a battle of wits much more than brawn.

If the film finally gives into a bit of Grand Guignol posturing at its climax, Welles is probably not to blame. As so often happened in his career, the film was taken from his control and cut to its producer's satisfaction. (The producer, by the way, is iconic Sam Spiegel working under the name of S.P. Eagle). But as with so many Welles films wrested from his control—The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil—even the fussy hands of those who thought they knew better couldn't completely quash the genius of the man in the director's chair. Very few films have managed to so brilliantly meld a political thriller into such a noir format. Source:

22nd MAY 8:00 PM - THE STRANGER (1946): A small-town schoolteacher suspects her new husband may be an escaped Nazi war criminal. Director: Orson Welles. Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles. BW-95 mins Source:

When neo-noir flourished in the 1970s, the movement emerged--fully formed as a genre--from its black-and-white cocoon. According to filmmaker Paul Schrader, noir began with The Maltese Falcon and ended with Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He'd add that it was largely an American movement that applied certain stylistic (high contrast lighting, voice over narration, non-linear storytelling) and thematic (existentialism, the cruel mechanizations of fate, amour fou) elements in genres ranging from melodramas to detective films. Another film scholar might add that directors like Fritz Lang and Billy Wilder never described their films as being "noir." They thought they were making thrillers. Film noir? That's a term the French critics applied retroactively. This video essay series takes the fairly provocative stance that film noir became a genre.

Essentially, in its golden age during the 1940s, noir was a mode/movement that was superimposed onto other genres. In the words of genre theorist Rick Altman, genres can start off as "adjectives"--fragments of the style and theme might be there, but the genre has yet to fully solidify because the filmmakers and audiences haven't quite gotten their heads around it yet. However, by the time Robert Aldrich was making Kiss Me Deadly in 1955, the writings of the French critics had made it stateside (in fact, there's a picture of him reading Borde and Chaumeton's Panorama du Film Noir on the set of Attack!), and perhaps the filmmakers and audiences had finally begun to think of noir as being a noun.

A list of the films featured in this installment: M, La Bete Humaine, This Gun For Hire, The Big Sleep, Out Of The Past, The Killers, The Lady From Shanghai, In A Lonely Place, Sunset Blvd.,
Ace In The Hole, Bob Le Flambeur, Breathless, Shoot The Piano Player, Chinatown, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Pulp Fiction, Sin City, Drive. Source:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Bradley Cooper & Irina Shayk in London

The stage door of the Theatre Royal Haymarket is about to be mobbed. For tonight is the opening of The Elephant Man, fresh from Broadway and starring hot Hollywood property Bradley Cooper wearing nothing but a loincloth. When Cooper was a drama student in 1999 on holiday in London he “took the pink line” to the Royal London Hospital, where Merrick was treated, and used his charm to persuade a member of staff to take him on a tour of the garden where The Elephant Man practised walking. It’s not all intense swotting up from the actor though, with friends saying he’s “intellectual but also great fun”.

New girlfriend Irina Shayk will be joining him on this trip — so prepare for Brad-ina sightings near the Notting Hill house he is said to be renting. The Russian model, aged 29, and Cooper were seen kissing at Novikov restaurant in Mayfair last week and have been dating since April. Date night with Cooper could take Shayk anywhere in London — he has been seen eating at an eclectic selection of restaurants including Burger King Leicester Square and J Sheekey with Anna Wintour (they have a shared interest in tennis and Cooper will be here to perk up rain delays during Wimbledon). A friend says he doesn’t like celebrity haunts, it’s why he prefers New York to more starry Los Angeles.

Wedding Crashers was his big break, when he was 30, and then came The Hangover. At that point, believe it or not, one casting director described him as “not fuckable”.

If you can’t make it to this performance, there are plenty of other places to catch Cooper. He has a cameo in television show Limitless, new film Aloha, with Emma Stone, is out in September and his latest collaborator is Beyoncé — they are doing a remake of A Star is Born. Source:

ET caught up with Aloha stars Bradley Cooper and Emma Stone at a special screening of in London, where Emma filled us in on the one place in the world she does not want to visit.

Model Irina Shayk attends a celebrity party during the 68th annual Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2015 in Cannes, France.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mad Men finale, The Elephant Man

A lot of viewers find the allure of Mad Men to be the advertising conceit and the drinking, smoking, screwing around, the costumes/clothing, the midcentury furniture, etc. – and those are all wonderful elements of the series. But the backbone of the series has always been a far less sexy consideration of one man’s existential angst and his struggle with identity and purpose. Weiner’s intellectual curiosity and fascination with the deeper meaning of existence is precisely why Mad Men has so much gravitas; but his smartest move was also loving all the exterior passions that make life interesting and fun. Weiner simultaneously presented the “end” as open-ended, which could have easily been canceled out by the appearance of wrapping up those very stories.

By that I mean that on one level the stories the Mad Men characters live go on, even though we have resolution and closure on another level. I thought that’s how Weiner would end it, but of course had no idea how open he’d leave it. As an example, we are left to assume that Don goes back to New York, back to McCann-Erickson, and regains his old job and the Coca-Cola account, plus delivers a TV ad for the ages. Don is running from home, from all the broken relationships and the changes, the life not led, the dead-end decisions – even the empty victories of money and success. There’s no happiness, no fulfillment, in any of it – just more “is that all there is?” emptiness. In California, at the end of the earth, he’s lost and crushed. “I broke all my vows. I scandalized my child. I took another man’s name and made nothing of it,” he tells Peggy, the albatross still weighing him down after all these years. He hangs up soon after, and collapses from the weight of it all.

Don, almost comatose, is led back in to a group therapy session and hears another man describe his own inability to be loved or acknowledged. (I liked how Weiner didn’t have Don say any of this – that Don heard it and related to it on same level for himself.) The man said his wife and kids don’t really notice that he’s present or alive. “They should love me. Maybe they do. But I don’t even know what it is. You spend your whole life thinking you’re not getting it. People aren’t giving it to you. Then you realize, they’re trying. And you don’t even know what it is.”

Jon Hamm did a superb job, as he always does, portraying Don’s implosion prior to that turn of events. I bought into the creation of that final half hour or so knowing that it had to be truncated to tell it within the episode. But that’s also where the open-ended storytelling device Weiner employed was useful – we know that Don was meditating on the cliffs above the ocean when the idea came to him for the ad campaign, but we also understand that he didn’t just get up and run off the lawn. He took what he experienced at the communal retreat/Esalen as a transformative life experience and employed it, we are to assume, as a changed man back at his job.

Lastly, there was so much to love in storylines that had the most closure. Peggy’s touching and comic realization that Stan loves her and she also loves him. Pete and Trudy jetting off to their new life together. Roger, embracing his age and laughing with his new wife, Marie. Joan, dubbing her new company “Holloway-Harris” and fulfilling her need to make something herself, even if it meant losing a man in the process (and we’re able to imagine that if it’s necessary for her to be together with someone, that someone will come along). We get a sense of the optimistic in those relationships and scenes. Even Betty’s elegiac last scene, defiantly smoking and going out on her terms, was something to behold. Source:

Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper has revealed he has to hang upside down on an inversion table to straighten his back after playing Joseph Merrick on stage in The Elephant Man. Cooper plays the physically deformed Merrick by contorting his body rather than using prosthetics. He told BBC Radio 4's Front Row that twisting his features had left one side of his face bigger than the other."Right now my face twitches sometimes," he said.

The play is transferring to London after a successful run in New York, and Cooper said that having experienced back pain during the New York shows, he had brought his table with him. "It's all about illusion," he said of the play, written by Bernard Pomerance in 1977. "The physical challenge is having to twist body and hold it for two hours. It's brutal, we did 120 performances in New York and in the last two weeks of the play I started to feel it in my back and my mouth and my face, all the muscles got very strong."

"This side is bigger, I don't know what's going to happen [in London]. I do worry a little bit, I'm not going to lie," he laughed. The story of John Merrick also inspired David Lynch's Bafta-winning 1980 film, which starred John Hurt. "There was something about the way he lived his life, the curiosity, the levity he had. Given all of his physical afflictions, it was mesmerising to me in a cinematic form, in a physical form, and it made me think 'I want to tell stories like this,' " he said. US critics have raved about Cooper's performance as Merrick, following on from his three Oscar nominations for American Sniper (2014), American Hustle (2013) and Silver Linings Playbook (2012). Source:

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Bradley Cooper will appear on CBS's "Limitless"

"Limitless" - CBS - Trailer 2015. A man gains the ability to use the full extent of his brain's capabilities. A television adaptation of the 2011 film 'Limitless'. Directed by Neil Burger and Marc Webb.

Bradley Cooper will reprise the role of Eddie Morra from the film LIMITLESS, for a recurring role in a new TV series based on the hit movie. LIMITLESS, directed by Neil Burger, was a surprise hit for Cooper back in 2011, and news broke earlier this year that the movie was to be adapted for television. The series, like the movie, revolves around a man who discovers the mysterious drug NZT which allows its user to unlock their brain’s full potential. The character of Finch also “has a clandestine relationship with Senator Edward Morra (Cooper), a presidential hopeful and regular user of NZT who has plans of his own for his new protégé,” according to Deadline who broke the news.

The official statement says that Cooper will appear “as much as his schedule permits” on the CBS based drama, but he will definitely have a guest spot in the pilot episode which has been directed by Marc Webb (THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN). Source:

Limitless avoids overt political statements; nevertheless, Morra’s rise lampoons the left-leaning artist by showing that bohemians will take a piece of the action if given the opportunity. Limitless is a blast to watch. Dazzling effects render NZT’s impact on Morra. Multiple Eddies fill the frame, capturing his frenzied, yet focused multi-tasking. Glowing letters fall from the ceiling and form words as he writes his novel in two NZT-stoked sittings. Numbers tick over in the ceiling panels as he works out an algorithm for turning $12,000 into over $2 million in just a few days.

Mise-en-abyme effects hint at the infinite possibilities opened up by the drug, as well as Morra’s burgeoning ego. The camera plunges forward in an unwavering line, passing down sidewalks, through crowds and buildings, mimicking Morra’s dizzying drive to know. Cooper clearly relishes the role and makes the NZT-addicted Morra impossible to hate. Deploying his wit and boundless confidence, Morra pulls in the audience along with everyone he meets on screen—traders and cocktail party guests alike. Source:

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Great Man Archetypes: Don Draper, Kurt Cobain

There is just one “Mad Men” episode left. Don Draper was born Richard Whitman and took the name of a Lt. Donald Draper, with whom he served in the Korean War. Only a few people from his legitimate past know Don’s real identity. Don not only is a lie; he creates lies for a living. He finds ways of convincing consumers they can’t live without Lucky Strikes, General Motors and whatever Dow Chemical makes. As we know, he’s also a liar out of the office, a serial womanizer, a man who cheats on his wives and cheats his children as well. It’s all about the pitch and whatever Don has to do to make the sale, even when that means selling what’s left of his soul in the process.

Don’s ex-wife, Betty (January Jones), fell on the stairs at college, went to the doctor to have her rib checked out, and found she had terminal cancer. And after being stuck in a small town for a week, Don gave the keys to his Cadillac to a young wannabe hustler who doesn’t drink.

From the beginning, Weiner has built “Mad Men” on the American myth of the self-made man, taking the notion to a literal level, as Fitzgerald did with Jay Gatsby. Welles did it with Charles Foster Kane as well. In the end, both antiheroes were doomed by following their ambition at the expense of their humanity. One was memorialized for the futility of steering “boats against the current” of destiny, while the other, in the final second of an acquisitive life, is crushed by whispered regret.

This week’s episode of “Mad Men” ended with Don sitting alone at a rural bus stop, clutching his possessions in a paper bag. The scene is evocative and solitary, a visual sigh, if you will. A bus will be along in a while, Don will get on board, his life in that paper bag, and probably keep heading west, where he left Dick Whitman a long time ago. We’ll learn the actual destination on Sunday, but we already know part of it: He is bound for the inevitable. Source:

Mad Men went full '70s with its trailer for Sunday's series finale – and we're digging it. The preview, set to Paul Anka's mellow "Times of Your Life," takes Don Draper (Jon Hamm) on a trip down memory lane, focusing mostly the women in his life: daughter Sally (Kiernan Shipka), ex-wives Betty (January Jones) and Megan (Jessica Paré), and colleagues Peggy (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan (Christina Hendricks). Don's agency partners Roger (John Slattery) and Bert (Robert Morse) also make cameos. Sadly, the video offers up as many clues as the "clip" creator Matthew Weiner aired on Conan: It's just a mashup of vintage scenes from the drama's seven-season run. Source:

That's an ad about world peace and people coming together in harmony — and it's being used to sell soda. It's the ultimate in commodification of powerful ideas by the wheels of commerce, and it's the ultimate in America's blithe belief that if it could just shut out the bad parts — or share a Coke — with the world, everything would be a little bit better. Now, I don't quite expect this to happen. But if you asked me to lay down money on a theory, I'd take Eileen's. It's the only Mad Men ending theory I've heard in the past few years that made me actually want to see some version of it come to life. Source:

The Hero is usually the last of the boyhood archetypes to develop and is the peak of psychological development in boys. It is the last developmental stage before a boy transitions into manhood. According to Robert Moore (author of "King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine"), this transformation from boy to man can only occur through the “death” of the Hero. Through initiation and rites of passage, the boy is symbolically killed only to be reborn as a man. Unfortunately, because many men in the modern West lack a rite of passage into manhood, they remain psychologically stuck in adolescence. Moreover, while the mature Warrior knows his limitations, the Hero doesn’t have that sort of self-awareness which often results in physical or emotional ruin. Source:

Kurt Cobain became "the global icon - Nirvana had produced a Camelot for grunge music, and Kurt was its King," according to Brett Morgen. "Ultimately the mythology of the man is that he was in pursuit of fame, and then he didn't want fame anymore. I hope this film shatters that illusion. I think Kurt, the child of a divorce, was in pursuit of family his whole life, and when that became defiled that's what ultimately led him to take his own life." Source:

“It’s just mathematics, that’s all rock and roll is. Everything’s based on ten. There’s no such thing as infinity—it repeats itself after ten and it’s over. It’s the same thing with rock and roll—the neck is that long on a guitar, there are six strings, there’s twelve notes, and then it repeats.” -Kurt Cobain

“Nevermind” and “Infinite Jest” are highly singular works in totally different traditions, but I think they represent the same scale of achievement and possess a similar cultural resonance. It’s by no means irrelevant that they were both (Kurt Cobain and David Foster Wallace) white heterosexual men who were deeply aware of the problematic nature of the Great Man archetype. “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” depicts the society that nurtured and fed that genius, and that made his unlikely creative explosion possible, as being the same environment that poisoned him — and suggests that the rise and fall were inextricably connected. Kurt Cobain was a canary in the coalmine, as was David Foster Wallace. You and I are still in it, and it’s getting harder to breathe. Source:

Friday, May 08, 2015

Nirvana's Montage of Heck, Wilco, Bradley Cooper's air guitar

There is no shortage of information concerning the life and times of music icon Kurt Cobain. Through countless magazine articles, books, and films, a fairly accurate portrait of the man has been created, but a mystery surrounding his troubled existence somehow remains.

Biographical information is provided in “Montage of Heck,” with the opening of the film covering the Aberdeen, Washington years, where young Kurt lost a sense of security when his parents divorced. Growing up in a state of alienation and rejection, Morgan makes a specific point about Kurt’s pinball existence, where a sense of belonging was never found, caught between a mother who lost patience and interest in him and a father who started over with another family. Morgan manages to sit down with Don Cobain and Wendy O’Connor, and while he doesn’t push too hard on the subject of abandonment, the parents aren’t particularly shy to share their befuddlement with Kurt and his behavioral problems, basically admitting he raised himself once he hit his teenage years.

Kurt Cobain & Courtney Love during their honeymoon in Hawaii, 1992

Morgan sits down with Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic, Kurt’s sister Kim, and Courtney Love, but interviews, while valued, aren’t the point of “Montage of Heck.” The documentary is more about abrasion, with sights and sounds rubbing each other raw, finding the noisy pitch of art-school escapism Kurt flourished within. “Cobain: Montage of Heck” is the microscopic study fans have been craving since the musician’s 1994 suicide, capturing the humanity of a rock star, not just the extent of his image. Source:

Wilco - I am trying to break your heart (2002) directed by Sam Jones. “Since Uncle Tupelo, I’ve been trained that you put out a record and people buy it five years later,” says Jeff Tweedy, leader man of Wilco. On top of it all, the cruel logic of major-label math meant Wilco’s royalties for both Mermaid Avenue albums were less than $1,000 despite their combined sales of about 400,000. Tweedy had long ago figured out that making records isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.

Victimized by the corporate wrangling at AOL Time Warner, Wilco suddenly found itself without any champions at Reprise, and with a completed album hanging in limbo. The story has a happy, deliciously ironic ending: Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was picked up by another Warner label (Nonesuch) for three times the money, and it made its debut high on the Billboard charts on the force of Wilco's fan base and ecstatic reviews. I Am Trying To Break Your Heart is first and foremost about the art and joy of making music, with extensive and crisply recorded footage devoted to songs in various stages of development and deconstruction. Stripped of the layers of discord that alienated Reprise executives, the opening track becomes a lovely acoustic folk song; with dual electric guitars, "Kamera" sounds more like a raucous outtake from 1995's A.M. than the plaintive version on the finished album. Above all, the documentary is a reminder that the small miracles of a great record come from artistic devotion and agonizing rigor, even if the sum ultimately falls on tin ears. Source:

Aloha, Mahalo, Malasada, Jeff Tweedy solo acoustic from Hawaii Theatre (2011). Tweedy flubbed a lyric during “New Madrid,” and explained afterward that the reason was he had been thinking about a psychedelic depiction of himself using a number of Hawaiian motifs on the cover of the Honolulu Weekly. Someone produced a copy from backstage, which Jeff proudly showed off and kissed, saying it looked nothing like him but was nevertheless amazing.

Air Guitar with Bradley Cooper - Bradley Cooper shows Jimmy Fallon his impressive air guitar skills by shredding Neil Young's solo from "Down by the River."

Bradley Cooper with Emma Stone and Rachel McAdams on the set of "Aloha" (2014) directed by Cameron Crowe

Monday, May 04, 2015

Renaissance Artists

Leonardo Da Vinci is mentioned in a list by Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza about the most prominent engineers, from the 1490s, comprising four in the top category of Ingenariis ducalis: ‘Bramante engineer and painter; Giovanni Battagio, engineer and builder; Giovan Giacomo Dolcebuono, engineer and sculptor; Leonardo Da Vinci, engineer and painter.’ Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks testify that his mind was busily active in his capacity as a ducal engineer, devising ingenious solutions to engineering problems – large and small, architectural and mechanical, military and domestic, feasible and fanciful. There was hardly a field of mechanical endeavour in the Renaissance which did not come under his scrutiny. The most prominent industries in Milan, arms and textiles, received especially sustained and detailed treatment in his drawings at this time. The difficulty in studying these in their historical context does not lie in judging the quality of his designs – their conceptual and illustrative brilliance is spectacularly apparent – but in knowing how far they played a productive role in the practice of the various trades and professions. Rarely do we possess adequate records of actual machines from this period, and when a later working design appears to reflect a Leonardo invention, there is generally no way of knowing whether they were both dependent upon a common prototype.

Michelangelo Buonarroti was born to poor aristocrats in Caprese, near Florence. Barely thirty years later, he was hailed throughout Italy and much of Europe as one of the greatest artists of all time, a judgment of which he was keenly aware and that he would bemoan yet try to preserve throughout his life. Michelangelo’s artistic contributions redefined Rome as the self-proclaimed “capital of the world.” In turn, the world celebrated the artist for his redefinition of beauty and expression, reclaiming the word “genius”—a term resurrected from the Latin—to describe this singular artist’s talents. Michelangelo’s contemporaries struggled to describe the phenomenal talents of a man whose work surpassed all superlatives. According to one of Michelangelo’s friends and biographers, Giorgio Vasari, God sent “to earth a spirit who, working alone, was able to demonstrate in every art and every profession the meaning of perfection.” Countless visitors still flock to see the frescoes, sculptures, and architecture with which Michelangelo adorned Rome. Although many artists fade from popularity as styles and tastes change, Michelangelo’s golden reputation has never tarnished.

Few other great Renaissance artists specialized in portraiture and were so brilliant as portrait artists as Titian, mastering a genre that in his time was considered less important than religious, historical or mythological subjects, and which was underrated by Vasari and Michelangelo, who believed that the reproduction of nature was less exalted than the creation of ideal forms and features. Masters of the calibre of the Bellini brothers, Leonardo, Giorgione and Raphael developed Italian portraiture as a sideline. Titian, who was the first Venetian to take advantage of a new appetite for realistic likenesses of prominent people, was unique both for the sheer numbers of his portraits and for the techniques and insights with which he revolutionized the genre. Portraits constitute a greater proportion of Titian’s oeuvre than they do of any other artist of the period. About a third of his extant works, are portraits, now scattered throughout the picture galleries of the world.