Tag Archives: Rembrandt

Art News – July 6, 2011

The Rose (III), 2008 by Cy TwomblyThe Rose (III), 2008 © Cy Twombly


RIP Cy Twombly (April 25, 1928 – July 5, 2011): The American Abstract painter, known for his large-scale, freely scribbled, calligraphic-style graffiti paintings, died Tuesday in Rome. He was 83. In the only written statement Twombly ever made about his work, he said that each line he made was “the actual experience” of making the line, adding: “It does not illustrate. It is the sensation of its own realization.” {via NYTimes}

On this day in art history: Mexican Surrealist painter Frida Kahlo (July 6, 1907 – July 13, 1954) was born. Kahlo, the wife of famed artist Diego Rivera, once explained, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.”

Now on view: Through October 23, 2011, Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum presents For the First Time: Rembrandt and Degas, Two Young Artists. The exhibition is the first devoted to Rembrandt’s influence on French impressionist painter Edgar Degas (1834-1917). (More: Visit the Park West Gallery Rembrandt website to learn all about the artist and view our unique collection.) {via Rijksmuseum} 

***Have an interesting art news story or upcoming arts event to share with our Park West Gallery Blog readers? Submit your art-related news links via email to marketing@parkwestgallery.com.

Csaba Markus, Aesthetic Olympian

Csaba Markus, Park West Gallery Csaba Markus “Veritas” (2006) | Park West Gallery Collection

~Written by Morris Shapiro, Park West Gallery Director~

In the contemporary world of art a battle is currently raging. As the 20th Century clicked over to the 21st, it provided a convenient demarcation point for this struggle, but it has really been ongoing for at least 90 years. The conflict is about the search by artists of our time for the fundamentals of aesthetics which have long ago been “thrown under the bus.”

The word, “aesthetic” is derived from the Greek word, “aesthesis,” which means “perception with feeling,” and in so simple a joining of two phenomena, the entire history of western art criticism has rested. Perception of course deals with the sensorial response to art: what we perceive and experience through our limited senses as we take in what exists before us for contemplation. Feeling, results in what we take from that contemplation and from whatever “information” our senses provide. That is, how the information affects the perspective we bring to the contemplation of an artwork. That perspective is made up of our emotions, our experiences, our education, our dispositions, our passions, our prejudices and the myriad other qualities that define who we are each individually.

All through the storied evolution of aesthetic philosophy two halves have formed the whole of the aesthetic experience. They are the “yin and yang” of art and their measure must each be taken to develop a true analysis of any work of art in any medium. “Form” is the physical body, the manifestation in concrete reality of the work of art before us. In the visual arts (for which we will confine our discussion here) form may include the medium employed, the size or format of the work, the use of line, color, texture, contrast, the composition of the work, or any number of other “physical’ attributes. “Content,” on the other hand, is what the work of art is communicating to us as we experience it during contemplation. All art has something to communicate, even if the communication is about the absence of communication.

In 1917, when French artist Marcel Duchamp created the first “Readymade” by signing with a fictitious name an inverted urinal and titling it Fountain, the true iconoclastic struggle of aesthetic “life and death” began. By proclaiming that something was art, because the artist claimed it to be, the aesthetic experience was transformed into a kind of  artistic narcissism, a constant contextual rumination by art asking itself, “Am I art, or am I not art?” 

For nearly one hundred years now, artists, historians, museums, art educational institutions, galleries, auction houses and collectors have embraced and legitimized these types of artistic creations and conceptualizations. It serves no purpose here to dwell on the embodiment of these “artworks.” We are all familiar with the dirty ashtrays, the sharks in formaldehyde, the crucifixes in urine, the Plexiglas boxes of trash and the thousands of other manifestations of what author Donald Kuspit in his book, The End of Art (2004, Cambridge University Press),  has aptly named, “postart.”

“Post-artworks” have been included in exhibitions with great fanfare and have fetched in the auction and gallery markets dramatically high prices, especially when compared to works by artistic masters of the past. To some extent, these “works” have been derided and ridiculed in the popular press and have caused their fair share of controversy, but essentially they have continued to flourish unimpeded in their own elitist milieu, where they focus on lifting up those things which were once considered banal, meager, ordinary and even repulsive into the highest realms of  “Fine Art.”

Csaba Markus, Park West GalleryCsaba Markus “Dance and Conquest” (2008) | Park West Gallery Collection

The Pendulum
A comprehensive investigation into the history of art ultimately reveals that if only one thing can be counted on, it is that artists (and consequently their creations) will react strongly to the art of their time. Often this reaction will be in the form of pushing back against the grain of the accepted art of the times, i.e. the art that is seen as respected, legitimate, important, and valid. 

Even deeper investigation will often reveal that the polar opposites that drive the pendulum of art history from one side to the other are grounded in the artistic ideals found in form and content and these in turn can be seen as the overarching characteristics of the pendulum’s extreme positions. A good example of this can be found in the distinction between classical art, which is grounded in the principles of purity and adherence to nature’s forms, and romantic art, which is about imagination, myth, and mannerism. Again, this is not the appropriate place for a long discussion of these historical observations, but suffice it to say that the difference between Caravaggio (classical) and El Greco (romantic), is a good example. These artists existed in nearly the same time and yet Caravaggio, by embracing the notion of a kind of painting that was focused on a depiction of true reality (right down to the dirt under the fingernails of the subject), created a new form of art in direct opposition to El Greco’s flamboyant and mystical interpretations of another world that existed beyond the tangible one.

“So what does any of this have to do with Csaba Markus?” you might ask. Well, I have had the good fortune to have many discussions with Csaba about these very subjects. And Csaba is a true student of art history. Just by looking at his art one assumes this. And like every great artist I have met (and the great ones from the past that I have only read about), being well steeped in the history of art, and understanding their place in its context, is of paramount concern to them.

I am fortunate to have a life immersed in art. It surrounds me every day. I research it, buy it, sell it, talk to people about it, and teach others to speak of it. I hear the questions, comments and concerns of collectors, both novice and seasoned. And when I speak of these contemporary issues, of art which causes the viewer to scratch his head and say, “So what?” after contemplating the “postart” that has besieged our world, I get more often than not, the same response: “Please teach me something. Enrich my experience. Enlighten me through the labors of your art. Show me something about life and the world in which I live that I did not know before I experienced your creative spirit. Help me to walk away from the contemplation of your art and feel enhanced.” Sadly, in most cases none of these questions are answered or desires fulfilled. Here it once again appears (after 3,000 years of human artistic consideration): the cry for a true aesthetic experience, “perception with feeling”—and people are indeed crying out for it. They are deprived and starved for it.

Enter Csaba Markus. An aesthetic Olympian, a man whose entire existence is driven to create an art which elevates, amplifies and exhilarates those who encounter it. Csaba, through his art and his complete emersion in its creative processes, is at the forefront of this battle for aesthetic supremacy in an art world which has mostly turned its back on the ideals of beauty.

Csaba knows this. He sees the big picture. He senses that something big is happening now. He understands his place in the history of our time, and he is positioning himself and his art now to be experienced far into the future. He talks to other artists when he is brought together with them through the events sponsored by Park West Gallery. He sees a new way in which art is being brought to the world. A new way in which people who would never have previously had any inclination or disposition to even contemplate experiencing and collecting art, are now engaged and even passionate about the change in their lives brought to them through these experiences. When Csaba speaks of these things his eyes widen, his gestures become broad, his voice booms and he communicates in a bold and vivid manner that runs parallel to his art. A manner that makes him instantly recognizable as a champion, a gladiator for the ideals that formed millennia of masterpieces but are often eschewed and ridiculed today. The quest for beauty: Csaba sees the pendulum beginning to swing back the other way, and he is pulling on it hard.

Stand before a painting by Csaba Markus. At once you know it’s the “real deal.” Before your eyes is a work of art that immediately communicates to the viewer the technical mastery possessed by this artist. Csaba has “chops.” He has studied the techniques of Leonardo, Durer, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and one hundred other old masters. Likewise, he commands the compositional devices and nuances of the abstract painters and the expressionists. His intention, he has told me, is to create a work that bridges centuries of artistic stylization. And one that is beyond any categorization, any label or generality.

When you look at a painting by Csaba he wants you to bring your own experience to the work. He wants it to be the point of departure for your imagination as your eyes drink in the face of a gorgeous, timeless woman; an airy iconic space full of floating images, symbols and visual touchstones for poetic association; gestures of pure shape and pigment, tonal flourishes, fields of color, ribbons of linear arabesques dancing across the surface. Csaba’s works introduce an artistic world that is fully formed. They present an ideal and harmonic blend of form and content. They are rigorous in their artistic vocabulary and express themselves effortlessly, and yet they are also full of stories to tell, as long as our intuition, spirit and imaginations are willing to listen. To Csaba, the act of creating beauty is once again paramount. To leave the viewer with a sense of wonder and awe that the human imagination can be so potent, that miraculously from nothing but a blank canvas and some pigments, a work of art so evocative and powerful can be born. This is Csaba’s goal. To bring back aesthetic beauty into the art of our times is the reason why he was put on this earth.

Who can say how his work will be viewed in one hundred, two hundred, five hundred years? God willing that there are still people on this planet. And if so, I know that art will still be here. I know that people will still look at a Rembrandt painting and weep. I know that future generations will still be moved by the spiritual purity and sacrifices made by Van Gogh to create his art. I know that people will still attempt to grasp the protean genius of Picasso. I also know (or perhaps believe is more appropriate), that the pendulum will have swung back sometime in our 21st Century. And future historians my scratch their heads and wonder, “What were they thinking?” when they look back in the history books at the remnants of paintings made of spaghetti, sculptures made of old shoes lying in a sled, and “artist shit” in cans (Piero Manzoni). They may very well then set the book down and glance over at their two hundred-year-old Csaba Markus painting hanging on the wall, and be grateful for the artistic crusaders of the early 21st Century who brought back the love of beauty and set humankind and art back on the path of aesthetic glory. 

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Learn more about Csaba Markus at the Park West Gallery Artist Biographies or view selections of the artist’s works from the Park West Gallery Collection.


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Park West Visits Rembrandt House in Amsterdam – Part 2

Morris Shapiro, Park West Gallery Rembrandt van Rijn
Park West Director Morris Shapiro at the Rembrandt House in Amsterdam, June 2010.

Park West President, Marc Scaglione; Gallery Director, Morris Shapiro and staff escorted approximately 70 Park West clients through a private tour of the house in Amsterdam in June. Included in the tour were visits to Rembrandt’s painting studio (see photo above), his meeting room for his clients, bedroom, kitchen, cabinet, printing room for etchings and a gallery featuring a part of the Rembrandt House etching collection (which includes over 300 etchings). The house located on Jodenbreestraat, which coincidentally was built in 1606, the same year Rembrandt was born, was purchased in 1906 by a foundation set up to establish the museum which was opened three years later. The Rembrandt House is a “reconstruction” of his living and working environment, as Rembrandt’s possessions were liquidated in his bankruptcy of 1656. However, due to the meticulous inventory prepared by the bankruptcy court and Rembrandt’s own drawings of his home and studios, the house has been reassembled with painstaking detail and reproductions of 17th century furniture, tools, painting materials and even a hand-turned flat bed etching press.

“It’s hard to really appreciate the substantial genius Rembrandt possessed,” says Morris Shapiro. “When one has the opportunity to observe his living and working spaces, examine the kinds of tools he used, and stand in the room where some of the greatest paintings created in the history of art were born, one can begin to absorb what he accomplished. For me, as a life long devotee to art history and deep fan of Rembrandt’s paintings and prints, to stand in that space was a special moment. Just to see the types of limitations he overcame everyday is astonishing—he had to mix and create his own paints; he stored them in pig’s bladders to keep them from drying up. In the photo of me in the painting studio you can see a window behind me at the top left. Rembrandt would manipulate the drapery lifted above that window to control the amount of light that would illuminate his model. His use of light is of course legendary and Rembrandt is synonymous with the notion of ‘chiaroscuro,’ the strong and dramatic contrast of light and shadow, so experiencing that space and comprehending his method was such a powerful experience for me, and one that I will never forget. I am so glad we were able to share the experience with some of our clients.”

In 2008, Shapiro and Marc Scaglione were toured through the Rembrandt House by Leonore van Sloten, Assistant Curator of the museum and their tour was videotaped. Included in the video is a demonstration of the process Rembrandt used to print his etchings, and an etching plate is printed on a reproduction of a 17th Century etching press in the manner Rembrandt used.

The video is now available to view and we encourage anyone interested in learning more about the master of the Baroque age, and undoubtedly the greatest etcher of all time, to view it at the Park West Gallery YouTube Channel.


For more information on Rembrandt’s life please visit the Park West Gallery Rembrandt website .

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The Alchemic Nature of Painting

The Park West Gallery collection features unique paintings and limited-edition artwork by artist Peter Nixon. With artwork ranging from figurative to still life, combining both representational and abstract elements, the artist is extremely well received by collectors the world over.

AN ESSAY BY PETER NIXON • Written exclusively for Park West Gallery

I OCCASIONALLY WONDER whether I am in danger of becoming an artistic relic.

In these post modern times, when all of art history is available to artists as an influence and inspiration, my inclination is to look backwards to the Old Masters for insight. Not that I have any desire to imitate the Old Masters, I am a creature of the 21st Century and the themes in my work reflect that, but I am drawn to them in the same way I am drawn to good food and wine. My senses strike a chord with something in their work that my appetite craves. To stretch the food analogy further I am compelled to add these spicy elements to the mental soup in my head ready to be stirred and ladled onto a fresh canvas.

Eugène Delacroix, the 17th century French artist said, “what inspires artists’ work is not new ideas but their obsession with the idea that what has already been said is not enough!” So when I look at an Old Master painting it may suggest an avenue to pursue that is at a tangent to its subject.

The composer Arnold Schoenberg said that an artist should not cut himself from the art of the past but should take it and assimilate it with his own work. I believe it is important for an artist to continue the timeline stretching from the past and maintain and develop the traditional skills of drawing and painting as there is still much in them to explore.

What I love about the Old Masters and what makes me continue to make reference to them in my work is primarily their richness of colour, chiaroscuro and particularly their theatricality – paintings such as Rembrandts and Titians which make my heart soar when I see them in the National Gallery in London.

Paintings should be an event – something visually splendid whose colour ranges from the brightest whites through sumptuous tones to the darkest black. The world presented as vividly as the imagination can conjure.

Modern art can seem cold and forbidding and too concerned with psychological introspection and answering its own rhetorical questions. The beauty of Classical art is that it celebrates the human condition and touches us at a level we can easily recognize. It is as equally well thought out as modern art, some would say more so, but presents beauty as mysterious without being obscure.

Art makes great demands on its devotees. It is extraordinary to think of the amount of human effort that has been put to the service of art just over the last 800 years; surprising for a practice that Oscar Wilde said was entirely useless. An amazing record of toil and tears, divine madness, aspiration and disappointment, but even so, something compelled all those artists to return again and again to their canvases.

Personally, I answered a spark that was ignited by a Leonardo drawing I saw when I was nine and I responded to some mysterious spell in that picture that has driven me to paint ever since.

The alchemic nature of painting is reflected in its mystifying language: sfumato, chiaroscuro, verdaccio, tryptich, alla prima, impasto and also the opulence of its materials: Ultramarine blue extracted from lapis lazuli, Vermilion red from sulphur and mercury, and Indian yellow from the urine of cows fed on mangos. It is pure sensuality and it is the tactility of these materials and the wonder of manipulating them that distinguish painting from video or Conceptual art.

In the recent past there was a belief that academic study – drawing from the model – was hostile to creativity. What a crock, and what a feeble excuse for navel-gazing and butt-scratching. Painting is not dead, as some would have us believe. The younger generation is just too lazy or scared to wake it up.

Modern masters such as Matisse, Picasso, Dali, De Kooning, Rauschenberg, Bacon, were all formed by the same academic skills that benefited Leonardo and Michelangelo. Art is Darwinian by nature and develops in increments; one person’s achievements building a further storey in the edifice. It is naïve and arrogant to believe that all of this collective experience gained over such a long period can be ripped up and discarded in the incessant contemporary pursuit of novelty.

Inspiration does not come without application and hard work. An artist needs to be continually alert to the world around him and should be like a magpie, acquiring images that catch his attention and adapting and absorbing them into his work. As Louis Pasteur said, “fortune favours the prepared mind.”

Curiosity did not kill the cat; it sharpened his claws and got him the cream. There is no finer example of this rabid acquisitiveness than Picasso, about whom Roland Penrose said, “he could take your energy during dinner and use it to paint all night.” Picasso said, “I do not seek, I find,” and was an artist whose insatiable curiosity inspired fear in other artists. In fact those artisans who shared the Bateau Lavoir studios in Paris with him at the turn of the 20th Century locked their doors in fear that he would adopt elements from their work and tellingly go away and do them better.

The artist also has to have the ability to transform all these accumulated ideas into a cohesive form; a good idea can be spoilt if the finished artwork is not well crafted. It takes a lot of looking and contemplating and painting practice to formulate a style that is not rigid and can be built upon. If an artist can transfer these feelings to the viewer by some visual osmosis; to beguile the eye and induce contemplation then he has succeeded in slowing time and casting a spell, thereby bringing a spiritual element into art and the impression of a vivid moment captured and delivered with what Francis Bacon called, “the sensation without the boredom of its conveyance.”

Someone once said that art is like the lotus flower; its roots stand in the mud and its head in the colourful and rarefied atmosphere of ideas. It is this mixture of the earthy and the ethereal that gives painting its charge, its physical impact. The artist; both an alchemist and a shaman takes base materials; minerals and petroleum products, the very dust of the earth, and transforms them by a strange magic into visual gold.

Peter Nixon. Bathers I. 2007. Park West Gallery.


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Artist Birthdays, July 29: ROBERT REID, EASTMAN JOHNSON

ROBERT REID (July 29, 1862 – December 2, 1929)

  • Nationality: American
  • Field: Painting
  • Art Movement: Impressionism
  • ARTiFact: His murals adorn the North Corridor of The Library of Congress – four circular panels on the north wall entitled Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge and Philosophy, and octagonal paintings in the ceiling vault representing The Five Senses.
  • Important Artwork (shown below): The Violet Kimono, 1910.

Robert Reid. The Violet Kimino (detail). 1910.


EASTMAN JOHNSON (July 29, 1824 – April 5, 1906)

  • Nationality: American
  • Field: Painting
  • Art Movement: Realism, Genre Painting
  • ARTiFact: His artwork was so influenced by the naturalistic style of the Dutch masters that he was known in his day as “The American Rembrandt.”
  • Artist Quote: “I have been for some time past in a state of such lassitude that I do nothing whatever that I am not obliged to, and avoid every physical and especially mental effort that is possible.”
  • Important Artwork (shown below): Negro Life at the South, 1859.

Eastman Johnson. Negro Life at the South. 1859.


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Insufficient Wall Space Forces Park West Customer to Relocate

Park West at Sea Customer TestimonialBecause our Park West art collection kept getting bigger and bigger, we literally had to move from our small house to a bigger home with more wall space!

Throughout our cruises, we have purchased more than 50 pieces of art including Erte, Miro, Mouly, Tarkay, LeKinff, Martiros, Behrens, Pino, Aguiar, Picasso, Rembrandt, Max and others. Our home is a gallery and we love sharing our beautiful art with friends and family.

Thank you for making it possible to enjoy our surroundings. There are those who would buy RVs, boats, SUVs or motorcycles. We have seen a lot of these fads come and go, but our art is always here and no maintenance required. Just sit back and marvel at these beauties.

We are looking forward to our next Park West cruise with great anticipation, so we can switch out old art for new. As Dick would say – ‘Get the spackle out again – time to rotate.'”

Rosa & Dick B.
Stone Mountain, Georgia


Have you been to a Park West art auction at sea? Leave a comment to share your experience with us!


First-time Park West Customers Reflect

My wife and I really enjoyed our first art auction on a cruise. We had watched the two previous auctions before participating in the last auction. Just wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed working with Trevor from Houston, Texas. We agree with others comments about Trevor, “He is also very articulate – a true auctioneer – and really works at getting the bids and selling the paintings.” He is a valuable asset to your company.

Cannot wait to receive our art works!

Dan & Zeny S.
Lenexa, Kansas


I would like to say that Seth along with his assistant, Alyssa, and Slavio were amazing to work with. I really enjoyed the auctions and they went above and beyond to make sure that buying art was a unique and great experience. This was my first cruise (and it won’t be my last). The next cruise I take will depend on what ship Seth is on.

Thank you for such a wonderful experience.

Greg H.
Reno, Texas


My wife and I want to say thank you to John and his Park West team that brought Park West to our recent cruise on Grandeur of the Seas. Our oldest son is an art student and John’s art seminar and art auctions were both informative and entertaining. While our purchases would be considered modest, he and his team made our first experience in working with a gallery very enjoyable.

To keep this short, his professionalism and personal (and personable) approach made us feel we were as important as the folks interested in the Rembrandt’s and other “high end” art he presented. And we thoroughly enjoyed his histories and sidebars on the various pieces and artists. He truly opened us up to a new venue and his sessions were a highlight of our cruise. Please give him a big pat on the back.

Thank you,

Dale M.
North Beach, Maryland


Peter Max: “I’m just wowed by the universe”

Peter Max’s artwork “evolves all the time,” the ’60s icon says.

Excerpted from an article & interview originally published May 10, 2009
BY DREW JUBERA | The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“After I finish with you, I’m putting on my sneakers and going to the studio,” Peter Max said from his New York home. “I’m going to paint all day.”

A painter whose cosmic pop art helped define the peace-and-love 1960s —- he’s even credited with coining “Be-In” for a gathering of humanity for humanity’s sake —- Max, at 70, is still working.

With a staff of 90 at his studio across from Lincoln Center, he said of his daily routine, “The majority of my time is at the easel, though sometimes I sign posters, go into meetings with museum directors —- all the stuff that surrounds the life of Peter Max.”

Q: You’re credited with capturing the Zeitgeist of the 1960s. How’d that happen?

A: My art probably fit a moment in the ’60s. In 1967, for instance, when a whole cultural revolution was going on, I went to Paris and got to meet a swami from India. I loved the guy and thought, “This is what America needs” and I brought him to America, to my home. This is a year before George Harrison fell in love with the maharishi. I had the same experience. I loved him for his wisdom… Then a part of me came out in my art.

Q: How was the art world you came into in the ’60s different than the art world of your predecessors?

A: I had a new palette available to me. When Toulouse-Lautrec and those guys were around, they had their studios and their galleries. When Peter Max came around 70 or 80 years later, he had Life magazine and TV shows and was able to do posters. I was able to put my art into the mass media. My canvas changed. Where the Lautrecs and Rembrandts literally had a cloth canvas, my canvas became television shows and magazines.

Q: How does a pop artist stay relevant in a popular culture that’s always changing?

A: I’m so tuned in to the day to day, where we are, where we’re going. I love the planet, I love art, I love color, I love creativity. Everything is creative. Every couch you see, all the cars in the street, the new diets, the new paradigms we live by —- everything’s creative. You and me and everybody, we’re all little tiny creatives. We kind of fulfill the big picture.

Q: Was Warhol an influence?

A: Warhol was a friend. We hung around together. When he did portraits, I did the same portraits. We influenced each other, we were contemporaries, though he came on the scene about 10 years before me. I remember going to a Warhol show when I was a student. I remember [Warhol associate] Gerry Malanga stood on a crate and read some far-out poetry.

Q: You’ve appropriated popular images of presidents for your art in the past. You even painted 44 images of Barack Obama from two photographs. What do you make of the dustup over Shepard Fairey’s use of an Associated Press photograph for his famous Obama image?

A: These things happen. Fairey is an artist, he was touched by Obama and painted him. I thought he did a great job. I don’t know what’s going to happen with it. I say, “Let it go.”

Q: Has your art changed since the ’60s?

A: My art evolves all the time. When I’m going to be painting today, for sure it will be different than it was last April, and much different than it was three years before that.

Q: Will your legacy be in the art world or the world of pop culture?

A: I don’t think that way. I’m just wowed by the universe. I’m just glad to do something I love to do. I love color, I love painting, I love shapes, I love composition, I love the people around me. I’m adoring it all. My legacy is in the hands of other people.

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