Category Archives: Art
Thursday, May 2, 2013
That a small group of Young British Artists (YBA) made an impact on the art scene in the UK and across the globe over the last 25 years is without question. Though, whether the public at large will, 10, 25 or 50 years from now (and beyond), recognize a Damien Hirst spin painting or Tracy Emin’s “My Bed” or a Sarah Lucas self-portrait — “The Artist Eating a Banana” springs to mind — remains an open question.
The group first came to prominence in the late 1980s, mostly through works and events designed to shock the sensibilities of the then dreadfully boring and insular British art scene. With that aim in mind they certainly succeeded, and some, notably Hirst, have since become art superstars. So, while the majority of artists never experience fame within their own lifetimes, many YBAs have managed to buck convention. Though, whether their art will live long and prosper is debatable....read more
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
A recent proposal to ban all pornography across Europe has raised some interesting questions. Not least of which is the issue of how to classify the numerous canvases featuring nudes — mostly women, of course — and sexual fantasies hanging prominently in most of Europe’s museums and galleries. Are Europe’s old masters, such as Titian, Botticelli, Rubens, Rousseau and Manet, pornographers?
From the Guardian:
A proposal to ban all pornography in Europe, recently unearthed by freedom of information campaigners in an EU report, raises an intriguing question. Would this only apply to photography and video, or do reformers also plan to rid Europe of all those lewd paintings by Titian and his contemporaries that joyously celebrate sex in the continent’s most civilised art galleries?...read more
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Art can make you think; art can make you smile. Falling more towards the latter category is “Jim’ll Paint It“. Microsoft’s arcane Paint progra seems positively antiquated compared with more recent and powerful drawing apps. However, in the hands of an accomplished artist Paint still shines. In the hands of Jim it radiates. At his Jim’ll Paint It tumblr account Jim takes requests — however crazy — and renders them beautifully and with humor. In his own words:
I am here to make your wildest dreams a reality using nothing but Microsoft Paint (no tablets, no touch ups). Ask me to paint anything you wish and I will try no matter how specific or surreal your demands. While there aren’t enough hours in the day to physically paint every suggestion I will consider them all. Bonus points for originality and humour. Use your imagination!
From the Guardian:...read more
Thursday, March 7, 2013
Only yesterday we posted a linguist’s claim that text-speak is an emerging language. You know, text-speak is that cryptic communication process that most teenagers engage in with their smartphones. Leaving aside the merits of including text-speak in the catalog of around 6,600 formal human languages, one thing is clear — text-speak is not Shakespearean English. So, don’t expect to see a novel written in it win the Nobel Prize for Literature, yet....read more
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Residents and visitors to London are fortunate — they are bombarded by the rich sights, sounds and smells of one of the world’s great cities. One such sight is Tate Modern, ex-power station, now iconic home to some really good art. In fact, they’re hosting what promises to be a great exhibit soon — a retrospective of Roy Lichtenstein from February 21 to May 27.
Black paintwork, white brickwork, in tree-lined Greenwich Village. We’re spitting distance from Bleecker, whose elongated vowels once made music for Simon and Garfunkel and Steely Dan. When the floodwaters of the nearby Hudson inched upward and east during Hurricane Sandy, they ceased their creep yards from the steps outside.
Friday, February 1, 2013
Yes, it’s official. There really is a subset of the Queen’s English for the contemporary art scene — dubbed International Art English (IAE). If you’ve visited a gallery over the last couple of decades you may be familiar with this type language on press releases and wall tags. It uses multisyllabic words in breathless, flowery, billowy sentences; high-brow phraseology replete with pretentious insider nods and winks; it’s often enthusiastically festooned with adverbs and esoteric adjectives, in apparently random but clear juxtaposition. So, it’s rather like the preceding sentence. Will IAE become as pervasive as International Sport English – you know, that subset of language increasingly spoken, in the same accent, by international sports celebrities? Time will tell....read more
Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Lego as we know it — think brightly colored, interlinking, metamorphic bricks – has been around for over 60 years. Even in this high-tech, electronic age it is still likely that most kids around the world have made a little house or a robot with Lego bricks. It satisfies our need to create and to build (and of course, to destroy). But is it art? Jonathan Jones has some ideas.
Lego is the clay of the modern world, the stuff of creativity. You can shape it, unshape it, make worlds and smash them up to be replaced by new ideas. It’s a perpetual-motion machine of kids’ imaginations....read more
Monday, December 10, 2012
Simon Coonan over a Slate posits a simple question:
“How did the art world become such a vapid hell-hole of investment-crazed pretentiousness?”
In his scathing attack on the contemporary art scene replete with Twitter feeds, pool parties, and gallery-curated designer cheese, Coonan quite rightly asks why window dressing and marketing have replaced artistry and craftsmanship. And, more importantly, has big money replaced great, new art?
As an example, the biggest news from Art Basel, the biggest art show in the United States, is not art at all. Celebrity contemporary artist Jeff Koons’ has defected to a rival gallery from his previous home with Larry Gagosian. Gagosian to the art cognoscenti is the “world’s most powerful art dealer”....read more
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Many cities around the globe are home to underground art movements — those whose participants eschew the strictures of modern day gallery wine and cheese, curated exhibits, and formal public art shows. Paris has gone a step further — though deeper, would be more correct — in providing a subterranean home for some truly underground art and the groups of dedicated, clandestine artists, hackers and art restorers.
Wired spent some quality time with a leading group of Parisian underground artists, known as UX, for Underground eXperiment. Follow Wired’s fascinating and lengthy article here.
The obsessively secretive members of an underground art collective have spent the last 30 years surreptitiously staging events in tunnels beneath Paris. They say they never ask permission – and never ask for subsidies.
We’re standing nervously on the pavement, trying not to feel self-conscious as we furtively scrutinise each passer-by....read more
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Please forget Instagram, Photoshop filters, redeye elimination, automatic camera shake reduction systems and high dynamic range apps. If you’re a true photographer or simply a lover of great photography the choice is much simpler: black and white or color.
A new photography exhibit in London pits these contrasting media alongside each other for you to decide. The great Henri Cartier-Bresson would have you believe that black and white images live in a class of their own, far and above the lowly form of color snaps. He was vociferous in his opinion — that for technical and aeasthetic reasons only black and white photography could be considered art....read more
Sunday, September 16, 2012
Science fiction stories and illustrations from our past provide a wonderful opportunity for us to test the predictive and prescient capabilities of their creators. Some like Arthur C. Clarke, we are often reminded, foresaw the communications satellite and the space elevator. Others, such as science fiction great, Isaac Asimov, fared less well in predicting future technology; while he is considered to have coined the term “robotics”, he famously predicted future computers and robots as using punched cards....read more
Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Some works of art are visceral or grotesque, others evoke soaring and enlightening emotions. Some art just makes you think deeply about a specific event or about fundamental philosophical questions. Then, every once in a while, along comes a work that requires serious head-scratching.
You are standing in a park in New Zealand. You look up at the top of a hill, and there, balanced on the ground, looking like it might catch a breeze and blow away, is a gigantic, rumpled piece of paper.
Except … one side of it, the underside, is … not there. You can see the sky, clouds, birds where there should be paper, so what is this?
As you approach, you realize it is made of metal. It’s a sculpture, made of welded and painted steel that looks like a two dimensional cartoon drawing of a three dimensional piece of paper … that is three dimensional if you get close, but looks two dimensional if you stay at the bottom of the hill…...read more
Sunday, July 29, 2012
London’s bright red telephone boxes (booths for our readers in the United States) are as iconic and recognizable as the Queen or Big Ben looming over the Houses of Parliament. Once as ubiquitous as the distinctive London Bobby’s (police officer) helmet, many of these red iron chambers have now been replaced by mobile phones. As a result BT has taken to auctioning some of its telephone boxes for a very good cause — ChildLine’s 25th anniversary. Though not before each is painted or re-imagined by an artist or designer. Check out our five favorites below, and see all of BT’s colorful “Artboxes”, here.
Proud of their London heritage, the ArtBox sports Accessorize’s trademark Union Jack design – customized and embellished in true Accessorize fashion.
Big Ben BT ArtBox
When Mandii first came to London from New Zealand, one of the first sights she wanted to see was Big Ben.
Saturday, July 28, 2012
Yayoi Kusama, c1939 Yayoi Kusama, 2000
The art establishment has Yayoi Kusama in its sights, again. Over the last 60 years Kusama has created and evolved a style that is all her own, best seen rather than discussed.
A recent exhibit of Kusama’s work in Brisbane featured “The obliteration room”. This wonderful, interactive exhibit was commissioned specifically for kids aged 1-101 years. The exhibit features a whitewashed room with simple furniture, fixtures and objects all in white. The interactive — and fun — part features sheets of bright and colorful sticky dots given to each visitor. Armed with these dots visitors are encouraged to place them anywhere and everywhere. Results below (including a few, select dots courtesy of theDiagonal’s editor).
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
The Garden of Earthly Delights. Hieronymous Bosch.
The Tilled Field. Joan Miró.
We tend to think of appropriation as a postmodern thing, with artists in all media drawing on, referring to, and mashing up the most influential works of the past. But we forget that this has been happening for centuries — millennia, actually — as Renaissance painters paid tribute to Greek art, ideas circulated within the 19th-century French art scene, and Dada hijacked the course of art history, mocking and inverting everything that came before it. After the jump, we round up some of the best, most famous, and all-around strangest artworks inspired by other artworks. Some are homages, some are parodies, some are responses, and a few seem to function as all three.
Joan Miró’s The Tilled Field, inspired by Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights...read more
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The recent finding in a Spanish cave of a painted “red dot” dating from around 40,800 years ago suggests that our Neanderthal cousins may have beaten our species to claim the prize of “first artist”. Yet, evidence remains scant, and even if this were proven to be the case, we Homo sapiens can certainly lay claim to taking it beyond a “red dot” and making art our very own (and much else too.)
Why do Neanderthals so fascinate Homo sapiens? And why are we so keen to exaggerate their virtues?
It is political correctness gone prehistoric. At every opportunity, people rush to attribute “human” virtues to this extinct human-like species. The latest generosity is to credit them with the first true art....read more
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Artist Ben Heine uses hand (pencil) and eye (camera) to create fresh perspectives on everyday scenes. In his own words, “I find a location, do a drawing, then take a photo to combine with the drawing.” Simple. Fresh. Unique.
To see more of his unique images follow the jump.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Fascinating insight into the Burning Man festival courtesy of co-founder, Larry Harvey. It may be more like Wall Street than Haight-Ashbury.
Go to Burning Man, and you’ll find everything from a thunderdome battle between a couple in tiger-striped bodypaint to a man dressed as a gigantic blueberry muffin on wheels. But underneath it all, says the festival’s co-founder, Larry Harvey, is “old-fashioned capitalism.”
There’s not a corporate logo in sight at the countercultural arts festival, and nothing is for sale but ice and coffee. But at its core, Harvey believes that Burning Man hews closely to the true spirit of a free-enterprise democracy: Ingenuity is celebrated, autonomy is affirmed, and self-reliance is expected. “If you’re talking about old-fashioned, Main Street Republicanism, we could be the poster child,” says Harvey, who hastens to add that the festival is non-ideological — and doesn’t anticipate being in GOP campaign ads anytime soon....read more
Monday, May 14, 2012
On May 2, 2012 The Scream sold at auction in New York for just under $120,000,000.
The Scream, actually one of 4 slightly different originals, painted by Edvard Munch, has become as iconic as the Apple or McDonalds corporate logo. And, that sums up the crass, financial madness that continues to envelop the art world, and indeed most of society.
More from Jonathan Jones on Art:
I used to like The Scream. Its sky of blood and zombie despair seemed to say so much, so honestly. Munch is a poet in colours. His pictures portray moods, most of which are dark. But sometimes on a spring day on the banks of Oslofjord he can muster a bit of uneasy delight in the world. Right now, I would rather look at his painting Ashes, a portrayal of the aftermath of sex in a Norwegian wood, or Girls on a Pier, whose lyrical longing is fraught with loneliness, than at Munch’s most famous epitome of the modern condition....read more
Sunday, May 13, 2012
“Before I Die” is an interactive, public art project conceived by artist Candy Chang. The first installation was in New Orleans in February 2011, and has since grown to around 30 other cities across the United States, and 7 countries.
The premise is simple: install a blank billboard-sized chalkboard in a publicly accessible space, supply a bucket of chalk, write the prompt “Before I Die…” on the chalkboard, sit back and wait, watch people share their hopes and dreams.
So far the artist and her collaborators have noted over 25,000 responses. Of the responses, 15 percent want to travel to distant lands, 10 percent wish to reconnect with family and 1 percent want to write a book.
From the Washington Post:
Friday, May 11, 2012
You’ve probably seen a Kinkade painting somewhere — think cute cottage, meandering stream, misty clouds, soft focus and warm light.
According to Thomas Kinkade’s company one of his cozy, kitschy paintings (actually a photographic reproduction) could be found in one of every 20 homes in the United States. Kinkade died on April 6, 2012. With his passing, scholars of the art market are now analyzing what he left behind.
In death, the man who at his peak claimed to be the world’s most successful living artist perhaps achieved the sort of art-world excess he craved.
On Tuesday, the coroner’s office in Santa Clara, California, announced that the death of Thomas Kinkade, the Painter of Light™, purveyor of kitsch prints to the masses, was caused by an accidental overdose of alcohol and Valium. For good measure, a legal scrap has emerged between Kinkade’s ex-wife (and trustee of his estate) and his girlfriend....read more
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Over the centuries many notable artists have painted religious scenes initiated or influenced by a very deep religious conviction; some painted to give voice to their own spirituality, others to mirror the faith of their time and community. However, others simply painted for fame or fortune, or both, or to remain in good stead with their wealthy patrons and landlords.
This bring us to another thoughtful article from Jonathan Jones over at the Guardian.
“To paint the things of Christ you must live with Christ,” said the 15th-century artist Fra Angelico. He knew what he was talking about – he was a Dominican monk of such exemplary virtue that in 1982 he was officially beatified by Pope John Paul II. He was also a truly great religious artist whose frescoes at San Marco in Florence have influenced modern artists such as Mark Rothko. But is all holy art that holy?
Posted in Art
Tagged art, money, religion
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Jonathan Jones dissects artists’ fascination over the ages with anatomy and pickled organs in glass jars.
From Hirst to Da Vinci, a shared obsession with dissection and the human body seems to connect exhibitions opening this spring.
Is it something to do with the Olympics? Athletics is physical, the logic might go, so let’s think about bodies… Anyway, a shared anatomical obsession connects exhibitions that open this week, and later in the spring. Damien Hirst’s debt to anatomy does not need labouring. But just as his specimens are unveiled at Tate Modern, everyone else seems to be opening their own cabinets of curiosities. At London’s Natural History Museum, dissected animals are going on view in an exhibition that brings the morbid spectacle – which in my childhood was simultaneously the horror and fascination of this museum – back into its largely flesh-free modern galleries....read more
Posted in Art
Tagged anatomy, art
Thursday, March 22, 2012
The iconic Tube Map showing London’s metropolitan, mostly subterranean subway system has inspired many artists and designers. Here’s another fascinating interpretation created by Sam Loman:
Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Following on from our recent article on contemporary artist Rob Mulholland, whose mirrored sculptures wander in a woodland in Scotland, comes Chinese artist Liu Bolin, with his series of “invisible” self-portraits.
Bolin paints himself into the background, and then disappears. Following many hours of meticulous preparation Bolin merges with his surroundings in a performance that makes U.S. military camouflage systems look almost amateurish.
Liu Bolin’s 4th solo exhibit is currently showing at Eli Klein gallery
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
The best art is simple and evocative.
Like eerie imagined alien life forms mirrored sculptures meander through a woodland in Scotland. The life-size camouflaged figures are on display at the David Marshall Lodge near Aberfoyle, Scotland.
Contemporary artist Rob Mulholland designed the series of six mirrored sculptures, named Vestige, which are shaped from silhouettes of people he knows.
In Rob Mulholland’s own words:
The essence of who we are as individuals in relationship to others and our given environment forms a strong aspect of my artistic practise.
In Vestige I wanted to explore this relationship further by creating a group, a community within the protective elements of the woods, reflecting the past inhabitants of the space.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Since mid-2007 the restless nine-eyed cameras of Google Street View have been snapping millions, if not billions, of images of the world’s streets.
The mobile cameras with 360 degree views, perched atop Google’s fleet of specially adapted vehicles, have already covered most of North America, Brazil, South Africa, Australia and large swathes of Europe. In roaming many of the world roadways Google’s cameras have also snapped numerous accidental images: people caught unaware, car accidents, odd views into nearby buildings, eerie landscapes.
Regardless of the privacy issues here, the photographs make for some fascinating in-the-moment art. A number of enterprising artists and photographers have included some of these esoteric Google Street View “out-takes” into their work. A selection from Jon Rafman below. See more of his and Google’s work here.
Sunday, February 12, 2012
From the Guardian:
The first pop artists were serious people. The late Richard Hamilton was being double-edged and sceptical when he called a painting Hommage à Chrysler Corp. Far from emptily celebrating what Andy Warhol called “all the great modern things”, pop art in the 1950s and early 1960s took a quizzical, sideways look at what was still a very new world of consumer goods. Claes Oldenburg made floppy, saggy sculptures of stuff, which rendered the new look worn out. Warhol painted car crashes. These artists saw modern life in the same surreal and eerie way as the science fiction writer JG Ballard does in his stories and novels....read more
Friday, February 10, 2012
The tiny, oil-rich nation of Qatar has purchased a Paul Cézanne painting, The Card Players, for more than $250 million. The deal, in a single stroke, sets the highest price ever paid for a work of art and upends the modern art market.
If the price seems insane, it may well be, since it more than doubles the current auction record for a work of art. And this is no epic van Gogh landscape or Vermeer portrait, but an angular, moody representation of two Aix-en-Provence peasants in a card game. But, for its $250 million, Qatar gets more than a post-Impressionist masterpiece; it wins entry into an exclusive club. There are four other Cézanne Card Players in the series; and they are in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Musée d’Orsay, the Courtauld, and the Barnes Foundation. For a nation in the midst of building a museum empire, it’s instant cred....read more
Posted in Art
Tagged Cézanne, Qatar
Sunday, February 5, 2012
A contemporaneous copy of the world’s most famous painting has been sensationally discovered by conservators at the Prado in Madrid, allowing us to see the Mona Lisa as she would probably have looked at the time.
In art historical terms, the discovery is nothing short of remarkable. The Prado painting had long been thought to be one of dozens of surviving replicas of Leonardo’s masterpiece, made in the 16th and 17th centuries.
But, the Arts Newspaper reports, recent conservation reveals that the work was in fact painted by a pupil working alongside Leonardo.
The original painting hangs behind glass and with enormous security at the Louvre, a gallery it is unlikely to ever leave. There is also no prospect of it being cleaned in the forseeable future, meaning crowds view a work that, although undeniably beautiful, has several layers of old, cracked varnish....read more