Best known for his thoughts on dissatisfaction and will, German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer was honored by Google in a doodle that ran in German-speaking countries on his 225th birthday last February 22. The doodle depicted Schopenhauer walking his dog, one of the succession of poodles he had during his lifetime. This philosopher was known to be attached to his poodles, believing them to be essentially similar to humans in terms of will.
Born in Danzig, Germany, Schopenhauer belonged to a wealthy German Patrician family. He was educated in metaphysics and psychology and was exposed to the teachings of Plato and Kant. These influences trailed his own studies towards the exploration of the human will. His most popular work, The World as Will and Representation, was soon published. Although this work stirred a lot of controversy, his lectures did not attract a lot of attendees. As a result, Schopenhauer developed resentment towards the academe. Nevertheless, he continued pursuing his investigation of the human will and motivation. He kept on writing about his theories and philosophies which were akin to Eastern philosophies. Other essays and papers written by this philosopher were published after his death in 1860.
His personal life was not all that pleasant. His father was believed to have committed suicide and his mother left at some point to marry another man. When he reunited with his mother, they continued to be in disagreement with each other. His mother even criticized his work for being incomprehensible. He defended his work nonetheless. It is not surprising that Schopenhauer did not have positive thoughts about marriage. He did not believe in marriage and, although he had some intimate relationships, never thought to get married. He passed on alone on his couch with only his cat keeping him company. He was 72.
Today, Schopenhauer’s works are often part of studies in pessimism. His writings discuss the continuous search of humans for satisfaction. He believes that the human will is driven by need to find satisfaction in various aspects of human life. While he believes that this drive and desire cause human suffering, he also believes that there is a way to ease this pain. This is through aesthetic contemplation or appreciation of the arts. This, however, does not provide permanent relief. Despite this belief, Schopenhauer maintains that music as an art is timeless and universal and can thus be considered as the perfect embodiment of will itself. Complex and profound as Schopenhauer’s philosophies may be, they continue to stir investigations into the human mind and its motivations to this day.
What better way to honor an illustrator than by having illustrations of himself published throughout the internet. On his 88th birthday, author-illustrator Edward Gorey was featured on the Google search page. This coincided with the Google Doodle for the 225th birthday of German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. While Schopenhauer’s Doodle appeared in Germany and other German speaking countries, Gorey’s Doodle appeared in English speaking countries. Gorey’s Doodle featured several illustrations of his iconic characters.
Popular as a storybook author and illustrator, Gorey’s works are marked with his macabre and ominous style. Aside from his illustrations, Gorey also forayed into set and costume designing. He mounted “Edward Gorey’s Dracula” on Broadway and earned a Tony. This story was published in 1957 and captivated readers with whimsical accounts of a mischievous creature wreaking havoc on the life of a quirky family. In more contemporary times, Gorey’s influences can be observed in the stories and illustrations of Tim Burton. Some of the modern animations are done in his distinct style.
Chicago-born Gorey claims to have inherited his knack for writing and illustrating from his maternal great grandmother. Helen St. John Garvey is known in the 19th century as one of the most popular greeting card writers and artists. He went through school just like every ordinary American, spent a couple of years in the army, and then went to Harvard University for his college education. He graduated in the class of 1950 and later on established, with a group of fellow Harvard graduates, the Poets’ Theater in Cambridge. Just like Schopenhauer, Gorey never married. But while Schopenhauer was known to enjoy sensual relationships, Gorey was never known to have any desire to have such relations.
His first illustrated book covers came in the latter half of the 1950s when he worked for the Doubleday Anchor’s art department. He did illustrations for books of such famous authors as Bram Stoker, H.G. Wells, T.S. Eliot, and then later on Bellairs and Strickland. It was his association with Andreas Brown, owner of the Gotham Book Mark, that propelled Gorey to international fame. The bookstore launched his career and served as the venue for the exhibition of Gorey’s works. Gorey’s home in Cape Cod, Massachusetts now serves as a museum and is called the Elephant House or the Edward Gorey House Museum. After Gorey’s death, Brown discovered a large cache of his unpublished works in the house. The materials were in various stages of completion but are substantial enough to be used as basis for future Gorey feature books and plays.
The year 2013 is said to be a year for a lot of astronomical events in the world. Comet sightings, eclipses, and meteorites falling from the sky are just some of the events that the world has witnessed in the past few months. As such, it is but fitting for Google doodle to honor one of the greatest astronomers and mathematicians ever, Nicolaus Copernicus, on his 540th birthday.
Mikolaj Kopernik, more popularly known as Nicolaus Copernicus, was born in February 19, 1473. This Polish mathematician and astronomer earned the recognition of being the father of modern astrology when his heliocentric theory refuted the belief that the earth was the center of the universe. His 1543 book entitled “De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium” – On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres contained postulates and diagrams that show the sun as being at the center of the universe. It took quite some time before his theories became widely accepted, but the paradigm shift that ensued led his successors to discover concrete evidence to prove his theories. Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects in his theory is the use of simple mathematics in determining planetary positions and movement. The original sketches of Copernicus’ Heliocentric Theory made use of flat circular patterns to illustrate the spheres and the planets that move around it. In this Google doodle, a flat surface with a central dome serves as the platform for six discs that represent the original 6 planets in the theory and one disc for the earth’s moon.
The doodle design is simple yet it catches attention easily with the slow and mesmerizing movements of the planets around the sun. It gives some depth and a modern touch to the original heliocentric illustrations that are found in his published works. And just like his theory, there is depth in the simplicity of the design, and it presents an intriguing vision that is hard to let go until one discovers the truth behind it.
The Google doodle team found their perfect match for 2013 Valentine’s Day with the combination of George Ferris’ 154th birthday and Valentines. George Ferris is an American engineer who became known for inventing a carnival ride which was popular with dating couples, the classic Ferris Wheel.
Until now, people continue to enjoy this classic ride not just for date nights but also for bonding with friends and loved ones. It is just a coincidence that the creator of this ride celebrates his birthday on the same day that people celebrate love, Valentine’s Day, but it is fitting that his creation takes center stage in this year’s Google doodle feature.
The original Ferris Wheel was constructed in Chicago, Illinois for the World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. It stood at a height of 80.4 meters or 264 ft and was considered as the largest attraction in the exposition that year. The original ride was dismantled and re-assembled in different fairs or locations from 1894 until 1906 when it was finally demolished. During its existence the George Ferris’ Chicago Wheel was able to accommodate around 2.5 million passengers.
Over the years, several versions or designs of Ferris Wheel were created and featured in various fairs and amusement parks. Some of the tallest wheels built after the original include: the Grand Roue de Paris in France; the Star of Nanchang in China; Cosmo Clock 21, Tempozan Ferris Wheel, and Daikanransha in Japan; and the Great Wheel in London UK. Two of the most prominent wheels today are the London Eye and the Singapore Flyer.
People all over the world continue to enjoy the thrill and romance of a Ferris Wheel ride. Today, Google presents a fun and funky way to enjoy the wheel with their interactive doodle. Just like a date in the fair, visitors of the site can take a spin on the wheel by pressing the heart button at the center of the doodles. But instead of a scenic overhead view, the wheels will show unlikely matches of cute animals that have their own love story to tell. The stories may vary but one thing is for sure, this feature simply shows how much people love George Ferris’ Wheel.
Google honors British archaeologist and anthropologist Mary Leakey with a doodle depicting her in an excavation site. Along with her are two dalmatians, as she was known for having her pets on site during her digs. On the foreground are footprints which perhaps represent the Laetoli footprints – to which she is known to have been the discoverer. Behind, the letters G, l and e are clearly seen to resemble rock formations while Mary and her dogs replace o and g in the middle.
Born Mary Douglas Nicol on February 6, 1913, in London, she is related to many famous names in the field of science, antiquarian John Frere for one and also archaeologist Sheppard Frere. Not made for formal education and traditional schooling, Mary has been expelled not just once from the schools she once was registered. With the help of her supportive mother, Mary was able to go through rejections and finally get to attend lectures unregistered in archaeology and related subjects at University College London and the London Museum, where she studied under Mortimer Wheeler (wiki).
Mary enjoyed two things; drawing and archaeology – the first would be the groundwork for meeting her would be husband, Louis Leakey, himself an archaeologist and naturalist. Sharing the same interests and values: a love of freedom and dislike for rules, an egalitarian frame of mind extending even to animals, a desire for adventure, and a passion for archaeology – they raised their three sons in the same environment. The boys namely Jonathan, born in 1940, Richard, born in 1944, and Philip, born in 1949 received much of their early childhood care at various anthropological sites.
The family worked together in Olduvai Gorge, uncovering the tools and fossils of ancient hominines, uncovering the OH 7 among others. Mary also developed a system for classifying the stone tools found at Olduvai. Mary died on 9 December 1996 at the age of 83 known for her works as a paleoanthropologist, her contributions greatly recognized in the field.
Google doodlers honor François-Auguste-René Rodin with a doodle of his most famous sculpture, The Thinker. Born on November 12, 1840, Rodin had already exhibited a penchant for the arts and had started drawing at the age of ten. In his teens, he formally studied painting and drawing at the Petite Ecole which specialized in art and mathematics. Under the tutelage of Horace Lecoq de Boisbaudran, he learned how to draw in his own unique style recollections of objects he had previously observed. He left Petite Ecole in 1857 and attempted to be accepted at the Grand Ecole. However, all of his three applications were denied, so he went on to producing ornamentals and architectural embellishments as a craftsman instead.
Five years after, he turned away from art when his sister Maria died leaving him in anguish. He joined the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament where Saint Peter Julian Eymard saw his immense talent and encouraged him to pursue his craft as a sculpture. Rodin heeded his advice and took classes with Antoine-Louis Barye who was an animal sculptor who paid particular attention to the musculature of animals while in motion. This meticulous attention to detail greatly influenced Rodin’s art.
It wasn’t until he went to Belgium though, and subsequently to Italy, that a definite artistic direction came to effect. During his travels in Italy, he greatly marvelled at the art of Donatello and Michaelangelo whose artistic influences are evident in Rodin’s works. In this pivotal period, he worked on The Age of Bronze which brought him both acclaim and criticism. The life-size male figure was created with such realism that he was accused of using a cast from a living model. To disprove his critics, his subsequent works were either larger than life, St. John the Baptist Preaching, or in a much smaller scale, The Gates of Hell. It was for The Gates’ lintel that he originally designed, The Thinker, his most-famed work and one of the most well-known in the world.
Though widely criticized for his sculptural works’ seemingly lack of theme, Rodin’s fame continued to grow and he was commissioned to create many other sculptures for prominent people. All his sculptural masterpieces exhibit great realism and intense emotion which show man’s magnificence and tragedy in harmonious discord. Undeniably, Rodin’s greatest contribution to the arts is providing freedom from structured and traditional art.
Horror and Gothic Romance fans are no strangers to the works of Abraham “Bram” Stoker. This contribution is honored by Google when his most notable creation Dracula was featured in Google Doodle for Bram Stoker’s 165th Birthday. The novel’s central character Count Dracula is one of the most loved gothic characters since its creation. Even those who are not familiar with the novel itself are enamored by the mysterious and sinister Count which has been featured in various film, novel and art adaptations. The most notable film adaptations of Bram Stoker’s Dracula were the ones released in 1931 with Bela Legosi and the 1992 film which starred Gary Oldman and Wynona Ryder.
A large number of Dracula Art can also be found in various forms from sketches, paintings, digital art and even wax figures. The Huffpost Arts and Culture webpage featured some of the most horrifying prints to celebrate Stoker’s 165th Birthday. These include “The Vampire” by Edvard Munch, “The Nightmare” by Henry Fuseli, “A Vampire” by Ernst Stöhr printed in Ver Sacrum Magazine 1899, “Demon Seated in a Garden” by Mikhail Vrubel, “The Vampire” by Philip Burne-Jones, “Camilla” by D.H. Friston, and “Le Vampire” by R. de Moraine. Dracula fans can easily find other artistic interpretations of Count Dracula from the works of concept artist Alexandre Tuis, Fan Art from Castlevania, movie posters from Mondo Art or digital images from deviant art and imagekind.
Bram Stoker’s other novels include The Snake’s Pass, The Lady of the Shroud, and The Lair of The White Worm. He also wrote short stories which include The Crystal Cup, The Chain of Destiny, The Shamrock, and a non-fiction book entitled Duties of Clerks and Petty Sessions in Ireland. Stoker’s interest in art was also observed during his lifetime as a founder of the Dublin Sketching Club in 1874.