Michelle Obama keynotes 100-days to Rio Games NYC party

2016-04-28 01:21:06

NEW YORK U.S. first lady Michelle Obama launched a 100-days from the Rio Olympics street party on Wednesday featuring more than 75 Olympians in an interactive carnival on two blocks of teeming Times Square.Obama, who developed the Let's Move program to address the problem of child obesity, hailed the U.S. Olympians as role models and joined in demonstrations of basketball and fencing in the slender island that runs between Broadway and 7th Avenue."One of the reasons I wanted to be here today to kick this off, to be a part of the 100-day celebration, is that we're not just talking about bringing home the gold," Obama, wearing a U.S. track suit, said in a keynote to the six-hour event."The Olympics are also about inspiring young people here at home, truly, to get them active and to live up to the example that our Olympic and Paralympic athletes have always set with their dedication, their determination, their unyielding commitment to excellence."After engaging in a passing drill with members of the U.S. basketball team, Obama was shown some fencing moves using foam sabres with Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will become the first U.S. Olympian to represent her country wearing a hijab. "Never allow other people's misconceptions to block you from reaching your goals," she told Reuters about her path to the Olympics. "We don't have to fit into this box. We can come as we are."We don't have to look the same, or dress the same or have the same cultural values to be successful."Decorated Olympians including nine-time athletics gold medal winner Carl Lewis, swimmers Janet Evans and Rowdy Gaines and gymnasts Shannon Miller and Nastia Liukin, gave autographs and visited with fans who filed past. Matt Miller, who rows in the men's Four boat, said the U.S. expected to challenge Britain, Australia and Italy for a medal and shrugged off worries about Rio pollution and the Zika virus."There's a lot of hype over the dirtiness of the water, mosquitoes, whatever, but nothing could stop us from going," he said. Manteo Mitchell is desperate to get back on the Olympic stage after breaking his leg halfway through running the first leg of the U.S. team's 4x400 meters relay at London 2012."I would give my soul," he told Reuters about earning another Olympic berth. "I'm working really hard to get back."Earlier 2008 gymnastics champion Liukin, sprinter/long jumper Lewis and diver David Boudia threw the switch in the Art Deco lobby of the iconic Empire State Building to light up the top of the skyscraper in Team USA red, white and blue. (Editing by Steve Keating)

Art detective says female and male model used for Mona Lisa face

2016-04-27 01:05:06

FLORENCE, Italy Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile draws millions of viewers from across the world, all eager to see the art world's most famous female face. But is it?An Italian art detective is arguing that research backs his long-standing claim that Leonardo Da Vinci used both a female and male model to create the acclaimed portrait that hangs in Paris' Louvre museum.While the identity of the woman is not certain, historians believe Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, sat for Da Vinci for the painting. But Silvano Vinceti, who heads Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, says he used infrared technology to examine the painting and made key findings in its first layer."In that layer we can see that she was not smiling and joyful but looked melancholic and sad," he said, adding the second model was Gian Giacomo Caprotti - Da Vinci's male apprentice, known as Salai. Using Photoshop, Vinceti compared the "Mona Lisa" face to other Da Vinci works Salai is believed to have posed for, including "St John the Baptist". "We have used all the paintings in which Leonardo used Salai as a model and compared them to the 'Mona Lisa' and certain details correspond perfectly; so he used two models and added creative details which came from his own imagination," he said. "I believe that this goes with a long-time fascination of Leonardo's, that is, the subject of androgyny. In other words, for Leonardo, the perfect person was a combination of a man and a woman."Vinceti also bases his theory on claims by 16th Italian art historian and painter Giorgio Vasari that Gherardini's husband hired clowns to try to make her smile for the sitting. Salai's name has in the past been linked to the "Mona Lisa", but other historians have dismissed the claims. (Reporting By Antonio Denti in Florence; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Art detective says female and male model used for Mona Lisa face

2016-04-26 04:36:05

FLORENCE, Italy Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile draws millions of viewers from across the world, all eager to see the art world's most famous female face. But is it?An Italian art detective is arguing that research backs his long-standing claim that Leonardo Da Vinci used both a female and male model to create the acclaimed portrait that hangs in Paris' Louvre museum.While the identity of the woman is not certain, historians believe Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Florentine silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo, sat for Da Vinci for the painting. But Silvano Vinceti, who heads Italy's National Committee for the Promotion of Historic and Cultural Heritage, says he used infrared technology to examine the painting and made key findings in its first layer."In that layer we can see that she was not smiling and joyful but looked melancholic and sad," he said, adding the second model was Gian Giacomo Caprotti - Da Vinci's male apprentice, known as Salai. Using Photoshop, Vinceti compared the "Mona Lisa" face to other Da Vinci works Salai is believed to have posed for, including "St John the Baptist". "We have used all the paintings in which Leonardo used Salai as a model and compared them to the 'Mona Lisa' and certain details correspond perfectly; so he used two models and added creative details which came from his own imagination," he said. "I believe that this goes with a long-time fascination of Leonardo's, that is, the subject of androgyny. In other words, for Leonardo, the perfect person was a combination of a man and a woman."Vinceti also bases his theory on claims by 16th Italian art historian and painter Giorgio Vasari that Gherardini's husband hired clowns to try to make her smile for the sitting. Salai's name has in the past been linked to the "Mona Lisa", but other historians have dismissed the claims. (Reporting By Antonio Denti in Florence; Writing by Marie-Louise Gumuchian Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

Obama takes in Hamlet as Britain celebrates Shakespeare's 400th anniversary

2016-04-25 02:26:05

LONDON/STRATFORD-UPON-AVON, England U.S. President Barack Obama marked the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death on Saturday by visiting the Globe theater in London for a performance of a scene from Hamlet, where the Danish prince poses the question: "To be or not to be".Celebrations were also underway in Stratford-upon-Avon where England's greatest playwright was born in 1564 and died in 1616.Thousands of people lined the streets of half-timbered Tudor buildings in the Warwickshire market town, 100 miles northwest of London, and donned Shakespeare masks to watch a procession of characters from the playwright's comedies and tragedies. On the banks of the Thames, actors at The Globe, London's monument to the Bard, treated Obama to a preview of a special touring production of his tragedy Hamlet, which was due to be performed there later on Saturday.As the sun illuminated the theater's wooden stage through the open roof, Obama was entertained for 10 minutes by a troupe of actors playing violins, mandolins, an accordion and penny whistles."That was wonderful. I don't want it to stop," Obama said. The visit was something of a pilgrimage for the 44th President of the United States who has named Shakespeare's tragedies as among the top three books that have inspired him.With its white-washed curved walls, the Globe opened in 1997 and is a replica of a theater where Shakespeare performed, situated a few hundred yards from today's version, which burned to the ground in 1613. Performances of Hamlet and the Bard's other plays were also on the agenda in Stratford, where street artists in Elizabethan costumes erupted into verse, including a group who had traveled from Kentucky, in the United States, to set up stage outside the house where Shakespeare was born. Britain's Prince Charles and his wife Camilla are set to join the celebrations later on Saturday when they attend a performance in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford.For the actors watched by Obama in Hamlet, the celebrations of the Bard's life started two-years ago, when they embarked on a tour which has performed in 189 countries.As well as the home-coming of the Hamlet tour, the anniversary was also marked in London by a series of screens along the River Thames which showed short films of each of Shakespeare's 37 plays. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Shakespeare's genius had captivated and changed the world. "His words about this nation 'this precious stone set in the silver sea' remain as potent as the day he wrote them," Cameron said, quoting from Richard II. Ian Waterhouse, in Stratford to take part in the parade, agreed with the Prime Minister. "Science and technology moves on. Nature moves on and morphs. We don't. We actually have all the angst, the love and the fear - everything that goes with Shakespeare and what came out of that time is still relevant to every single person alive and here today," he said. (Reporting by Roberta Rampton, Alex Fraser and Mia Reakes, Writing by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge, Susan Fenton and David Evans)

Rice sculpture: Taiwan artist gets granular with president elect

2016-04-24 21:18:05

TAIPEI A Taiwan artist has refused to see the big picture and instead captured the likeness of president-elect Tsai Ing-wen, to celebrate her inauguration next month, on a single grain of rice.Chen Forng-Shean, who has also sculpted the face of China's late Chairman Mao Zedong on rice, said the staple was a fitting medium for his work because it met the basic needs of ethnic Chinese."Rice gives nourishment to the proverbial belly of the ethnic Chinese people. I used rice (as a medium) to encourage Taiwan's leader, Tsai Ing-wen, hoping that she can take care of the common people, so they don't need to endure hunger, and improve their financial situation," he said.He outlined the facial features and accompanying Chinese characters with a needle-point pen on to the surface before carving and then dabbing black paint into the grooves. It took three months and more than 10 tries to get the sculpture to Chen's satisfaction. Visitors to his cluttered workshop near the capital Taipei can view more than 150 of his works using a magnifying glass. Chen reminded Tsai, who takes office on May 20, that she pledged in her acceptance speech in January to work for the people of Taiwan."'(Be) modest, modest and even more modest.' I wrote this sentence of hers on to this grain of rice." (Reporting by Fabian Hamacher; Editing by J.R. Wu and Nick Macfie)

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