EssentialstheDiagonal is a personal blog by Mike Gerra, skeptic, technologist, psychologist, artist, humanist, collector of grand, eclectic ideas.theDiagonal blog connects the dots across multiple disciplines for inquisitive, objective and critical thinkers, exploring the vertices of big science, disruptive innovation, global sustainability, illuminating literature and leftfield art. It is on this diagonal that creativity thrives, big ideas take flight and reason triumphs.
Tag Archives: contemporary 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
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 14, 2013
Over the decades Hollywood has remade movie monsters and aliens into evermore terrifying and nightmarish, and often slimier, versions of ourselves. In Britain of the 1960s kids grew up with the thoroughly scary and evil Daleks, from the SciFi series Dr.Who. Their raspy electronic voices proclaiming “Exterminate! Exterminate!” and death-rays would often consign children to a restless sleep in the comfort of their parents’ beds. Nowadays the Daleks would be dismissed as laughable and amateurish constructions — after all, how could malevolent, otherworldly beings be made from what looked too much like discarded egg cartons and toilet plungers. But, they do remain iconic — a fixture of our pop culture.
From the Guardian:
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
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.
From the Guardian:
Friday, January 11, 2013
Over at the Guardian’s art and culture blog Jonathan Jones argues that photography has now become our de facto medium for contemporary artistic expression. Some may argue that the creative process underlying photography comes up short when compared with the skills and techniques required to produce some art in more traditional media. However, Jones seems right in one respect: today’s photography captures the drama of the human condition in a way that no other medium can today, it’s not even close. We are in awe of the skills demonstrated by the Old Masters. However, that it took months for Rembrandt to paint a single canvas misses the point. It still takes an eye and empathy and a desire to tell a unique story as the photographer clicks the digital shutter in a five-hundredth of a second.
From the Guardian:
It has taken me a long time to see this, and you can laugh at me if you like. But here goes....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”.
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)....read more
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.
From Washington Post:
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
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
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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.
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
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Regardless of what you may believe about Damien Hirst or think about his art it would not be stretching the truth to say he single-handedly resurrected the British contemporary art scene over the last 15 years.
Our favorite mainstream blogger on all things art, Jonathan Jones, revisits Hirst and his “pickled shark”.
From the Guardian:
I had no job and didn’t know where I was going in life when I walked into the Saatchi Gallery in 1992 and saw a tiger shark swimming towards me. Standing in front of Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living in its original pristine state was a disconcerting and marvellous experience. The shark, then, did not look pickled, it looked alive. It seemed to move as you moved around the tank that contained it, because the refractions of the liquid inside which it “swam” caused your vision of it to jump as you changed your angle....read more
Thursday, July 28, 2011
Jonathan Jones over at the Guardian puts an creative spin (pun intended) on the latest developments in the world of particle physics. He suggests that we might borrow from the world of modern and contemporary art to help us take the vast imaginative leaps necessary to understand our physical world and its underlying quantum mechanical nature bound up in uncertainty and paradox.
Jones makes a good point that many leading artists of recent times broke new ground by presenting us with an alternate reality that demanded a fresh perspective of the world and what lies beneath. Think Picasso and Dali and Miro and Twombly.
From Jonathan Jones for the Guardian:
Friday, July 22, 2011
From the Guardian:
Lucian Freud, widely acknowledged as one of the greatest, most influential and yet most controversial British painters of his era, has died at his London home.
News of his death, at the age of 88, was released by his New York art dealer, William Acquavella. The realist painter, who was a grandson of the psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, had watched his works soar in value over recent years and, in 2008, his portrayal of a large, naked woman on a couch – Benefit Supervisor Sleeping – sold at auction for £2.6m, a record price for the work of a living artist.
Born in Berlin, Freud came to Britain in 1933 with his family when he was 10 years old and developed his passion for drawing. After studying at art school, he had a self-portrait accepted for Horizon magazine and, by the age of 21, his talent had been recognised in a solo show. He returned to Britain after the war years to teach at the Slade School of Art in London....read more
Friday, July 8, 2011
From the New York Times:
Cy Twombly, whose spare childlike scribbles and poetic engagement with antiquity left him stubbornly out of step with the movements of postwar American art even as he became one of the era’s most important painters, died in Rome Tuesday. He was 83.
The cause was not immediately known, although Mr. Twombly had suffered from cancer. His death was announced by the Gagosian Gallery, which represents his work....read more
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Jackson Pollock, famous for his deceptively random-seeming drip paintings, took advantage of certain features of fluid dynamics years before physicists thought to study them.
“His particular painting technique essentially lets physics be a player in the creative process,” said physicist Andrzej Herczynski of Boston College, coauthor of a new paper in Physics Today that analyzes the physics in Pollock’s art. “To the degree that he lets physics take a role in the painting process, he is inviting physics to be a coauthor of his pieces.”...read more
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Artist Caleb Larsen seems to have the right idea. Rather than relying on the subjective wants and needs of galleries and the dubious nature of the secondary art market (and some equally dubious auctioneers) his art sells itself.
His work, entitled “A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter”, is an 8-inch opaque, black acrylic cube. But while the exterior may be simplicity itself, the interior holds a fascinating premise. The cube is connected to the internet. In fact, it’s connected to eBay, where through some hidden hardware and custom programming it constantly auctions itself.
As Caleb Larsen describes,
Combining Robert Morris’ Box With the Sound of Its Own Making with Baudrillard’s writing on the art auction this sculpture exists in eternal transactional flux. It is a physical sculpture that is perptually attempting to auction itself on eBay.
Friday, February 26, 2010
From The Guardian:
The guests were chic, the bordeaux was sipped with elegant restraint and the hostess was suitably glamorous in a canary yellow cocktail dress. To an outside observer who made it past the soirée privée sign on the door of the Anne de Villepoix gallery on Thursday night, it would have seemed the quintessential Parisian art viewing.
Yet that would been leaving one crucial factor out of the equation: the man whose creations the crowd had come to see. In his black cowboy hat and pressed white collar, Ion Barladeanu looked every inch the established artist as he showed guests around the exhibition. But until 2007 no one had ever seen his work, and until mid-2008 he was living in the rubbish tip of a Bucharest tower block.
Today, in the culmination of a dream for a Romanian who grew up adoring Gallic film stars and treasures a miniature Eiffel Tower he once found in a bin, Barladeanu will see his first French exhibition open to the general public....read more
Sunday, January 10, 2010
From The New York Times:
THERE was a chill in the morning air in 2005 when dozens of artists from China, Europe and North America emerged from their red-brick studios here to find the police blocking the gates to Suojiacun, their compound on the city’s outskirts. They were told that the village of about 100 illegally built structures was to be demolished, and were given two hours to pack.
By noon bulldozers were smashing the walls of several studios, revealing ripped-apart canvases and half-glazed clay vases lying in the rubble. But then the machines ceased their pulverizing, and the police dispersed, leaving most of the buildings unscathed. It was not the first time the authorities had threatened to evict these artists, nor would it be the last. But it was still frightening....read more
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
I’ve been pondering a concrete answer to this question, and others like it for some time. I do wonder “what is art?” and “what is great art?” and “what distinguishes fine art from its non-fine cousins?” and “what makes some art better than other art?”
In formulating my answers to these questions I’ve been looking inward and searching outward. I’ve been digesting the musings of our great philosophers and eminent scholars and authors. I’m close to penning some blog-worthy articles that crystallize my current thinking on the subject, but I’m not quite ready. Not yet. So, in the meantime you and I will have to make do with deep thoughts on the subject of art from some of my friends…
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Tuesday, December 9, 2008
I’m missing Art Basel | Miami this year. Last year’s event and surrounding shows displayed so much contemporary (and some modern) art, from so many artists and galleries that my head was buzzing for days afterward. This year I have our art251 gallery to co-run, so I’ve been visiting Art Basel virtually – reading the press releases, following the exhibitors and tuning in to the podcasts and vids, using the great tubes of the internet.
The best story by far to emerge this year from Art Basel | Miami is the continuing odyssey of Herb and Dorothy Vogel, their passion for contemporary art and their outstanding collection. On December 5, the documentary “Herb and Dorothy” was screened at Art Basel’s Art Loves Film night. And so their real-life art fairytale goes something like this…
Artiss YouTube Embed: The YouTube ID of fMuYV_qvyEk is invalid....read more
Thursday, July 17, 2008
China perhaps, or even a dog!
As you know, a vast amount of global manufacturing is outsourced to China. In fact, a fair deal of so-called “original” art now comes from China as well, where art factories of “copyworkers” are busy reproducing works by old masters or, for a few extra Yuan, originals in this or that particular style. For instance, the city of Dafen, China manufactures more “Van Goghs” in a couple of weeks than the real Van Gogh created in his entire lifetime. Dafen produces some great bargains — $2 for an unframed old master, $3 for a custom version (prices before enormous markup) — if you like to buy your art by the square foot....read more
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
From The New York Times:
Robert Rauschenberg, the irrepressibly prolific American artist who time and again reshaped art in the 20th century, died on Monday night at his home on Captiva Island, Fla. He was 82.
The cause was heart failure, said Arne Glimcher, chairman of PaceWildenstein, the Manhattan gallery that represents Mr. Rauschenberg.
Mr. Rauschenberg’s work gave new meaning to sculpture. “Canyon,” for instance, consisted of a stuffed bald eagle attached to a canvas. “Monogram” was a stuffed goat girdled by a tire atop a painted panel. “Bed” entailed a quilt, sheet and pillow, slathered with paint, as if soaked in blood, framed on the wall. All became icons of postwar modernism....read more
Friday, March 7, 2008
From The New York Times:
Starting in the late 1950s the great American art critic Clement Greenberg only had eyes for Color Field painting. This was the lighter-than-air abstract style, with its emphasis on stain painting and visual gorgeousness introduced by Helen Frankenthaler followed by Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Jules Olitski.
With the insistent support of Greenberg and his acolytes, Color Field soared as the next big, historically inevitable thing after Jackson Pollock. Then over the course of the 1970s it crashed and burned and dropped from sight. Pop and Minimal Art, which Greenberg disparaged, had more diverse critical support and greater influence on younger artists. Then Post-Minimalism came along, exploding any notion of art’s neatly linear progression....read more