January 6, 2019

David Jien

David JienI love the weird and wonderful work of David Jien. His gallerist Richard Heller writes, "he takes inspiration from the infinite possibilities of science fiction, the storytelling of Henry Darger, the isometric perspective and narrative geography of Nintendo and Chinese scroll paintings, the eroticism of Japanese pillow books and the limitless transformations of graffiti..."

May 2, 2013

Italian Ex-votos of People Falling

I have loved ex-votos ever since I spotted a small cluster of them in the back of my abuelita's church. I was immediately fascinated with their strangeness and power. As soon as I had a paycheck I started collecting them and have studied the Mexican forms of this art in detail. That said, I've only been vaguely aware of the European ex-voto traditions that inspired the Mexican tradition. A blog called Chaudron has collected a fantastic set of Italian ex-votos of people falling (who were presumably miraculously saved).



December 21, 2011

Rokuro Taniuchi




Dear Santa,

This Christmas I would like an exhaustive English language monograph featuring the work of Rokuro Taniuchi.

Thanks in advance!


. . . . . . . . . . .
Editor's note: Taniuchi was a Japanese artist/illustrator who known for his illustrations in comic books, children's books, and magazines (he painted over 1000 magazine covers.) Five galleries of Rokuro's work can be found on Will Schofield's completely excellent book illustration blog 50 Watts. An overview of Rokuro's work can be found on Amazon Japan.

Also please check out 50 Watt's fantastic book illustration collections on flickr. But beware, they will kill your afternoon.

November 9, 2011

Archdukes Albert and Isabella Visiting a Collector's Cabinet

by Jan Brueghel the Elder &Hieronymus Francken II

Uploaded, just because it's awesome. More information & link to a gigantic version of the image.

October 21, 2011

One Year Performance

I never tire of these.

Hsieh created a number of fascinating performance pieces including Cage Piece (1978-1979) where he locked himself in a cage and didn't allow himself to talk, read, write, or listen/watch media for an entire year and Outdoor Piece (1981-1982) where he lived outside in New York City for a year without shelter. Hsieh stopped making art in 1999. Read his Wikipedia entry to learn more.

(via La Boite Verte)

Related: Solargraphs, Alexey Titarenko, Manhattan Bridge, Michael Wesely, Photobooth 1993-2006, Time Photography, Ahree Lee, Obsessive Photo Projects

September 16, 2011

Matt Couper


Matt Couper is an artist who among other things creates modern ex-votos. This one reads, "To the Jesus of external hard drives, please fix the permissions on my drive so I can access all my files on it. There are a lot of corrupt files and psd files that won't open and I'm start panicking. 29th of November 2006" Explore the rest, they're super.

July 5, 2011

Cy Twombly


Cy Twombly is dead. He was 83. I saw him at a restaurant once in Rome. I'm happy to report I resisted the strong urge to interrupt his meal.

Rather than read the NY Times survey of his life, I recommend reading interviews. This is a good one to start with.

April 17, 2011

Agence Eureka


Agence Eureka has quickly become one of my favorite sources for visual inspiration. The site features French printed material from the 20's-70's. A few examples: children's games, type samples, vintage costume patterns and on and on...

April 7, 2011



"Replaced" by artist Mike Ruiz was created by using photoshop's content aware fill to paint out the Mona Lisa, leaving only her background. The image was then sent to a Chinese copy artist to be painted in oil.... It's a nice try for a computer + copy artist, but I don't think the landscape would be so photoshoppy repetitive, I'll bet the copy artist could have done better on his/her own. Also shouldn't the title be 'Removed'?

I've seen a couple of artworks playing on this idea although this and this one are the only ones I've found online (as an aside MegaMonaLisa is one of the more bizarre sites I've stumbled upon this week).

The landscape in the background has long been a source of studys. One popular theory holds that the background is a painting of the landscape near Bobbio in Northern Italy, based on the theory that the numbers 7 and 2 (hidden in a span of the bridge in the painting) refer to 1472, when a flood washed away Bobbio's bridge. This seems farfetched to me.

Some believe the bridge is the Buriano, near Arezzo. Other historians based on information in Leonardo's topological surveys believe the background depicts the area near the confluence of the Arno and Chiana rivers (In this scenario the sitter obscures a view of Lake Chiana). This seems like a more reasonable theory to me, although it's just as likely Leonardo just drew a background he created from whole cloth.

(Mike Ruiz image is via Good)

March 7, 2011

The Diary Exhibit @ The Morgan Library

charlotte-bronte-had-tiny-handwriting.jpg Charlotte Bronte's diary
The city was full of art over the last few days with competing fairs and scores of gallery exhibits, but the of all the art around, the thing I will remember from the weekend is the show at the Morgan Library called "The Diary: Three Centuries of Private Lives". The website is terrible (The exhibition is small. Why so few scans? Why so few transcriptions? Why are the scans so small?! Why do so many of the podcasts have to be read by someone that sounds like that English teacher you disliked in 7th grade? Etc. etc.) so don't bother, just go visit the Museum in person. You'll read Nathaniel Hawthorn muse in a diary about a story he's considering on “the life of a woman, who by the old colonial law was condemned always to wear the letter A…” You'll read Stuart Davis' "Complete formula for artistic & financial Success." And you'll see Charlotte Bronte's tiny handwriting, that alone was worth the trip for me.

Sidenote: Be sure to grab the xeroxed transcriptions as you walk in the door. They're easy to miss.

Related: The New York Times review of the show has better images than the actual ML website.

March 2, 2011

After the Mona Lisa's Theft

monalisa-aftertheft.jpgPhotographs taken of the front and back of the Mona Lisa's empty frame after it's theft (the frame was abandoned in a staircase during the Peruggia's getaway).

In 1911 an Italian named Vincenzo Peruggia managed to steal the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. The Museum and the police were mystified. "La Gioconda is gone. That is all I can say. So far we have not the slightest clue as to the perpetrator of the crime," reported the Assistant Curator of the Louvre to the NYTimes.

Peruggia secreted the painting to his small apartment two blocks from the museum and kept it hidden for almost two years. I often wonder if, during those years, he kept the painting locked up in the secret false bottom of his trunk (where it was eventually found), or if, sometimes, he would take it out and and hang it while he made himself dinner and enjoyed a glass a wine. I love the mental image of Peruggia alone at table breaking bread with Mona Lisa's eyes always on him.

Related: Much more Mona Lisa esoterica can found on The Missing Piece. Vanished Smile: The Mysterious Theft of Mona Lisa" is a good book on the theft. Read this NY Times article from 1911 about the theft.

February 7, 2011

The Feltron Annual Report

gordon-feltron.jpgThe raw materials...

gordon-feltron2.jpgA page from the finished report.

Nicholas Felton published his annual report today. Unlike years past where he cataloged, analyzed, and quantified a single year of his own life, this time he examined the life — the entire life — of his father Gordon Felton, who died in 2010. Nick studied scores of documents, calendars, postcards, and pictures to build a portrait of his dad in data. And it's quite a portrait. By triangulating his father's movements, Nick literally maps the shape of the world with the forms of continents emerging from the mesh of connecting lines (Felton Sr. was one hell of a traveler). The document is full of stories "Name legally changed to Gordon Felton in the province of Manitoba September 9, 1954 at 4:15" and facts both amusing ("Middle name Paul added in 1968") and heartbreaking (Last Day Sep 12, 2010 81 years, 2 months and 8 days old). Ultimately though, the document is a set of mysteries. Reading it reminded me of the questions asked by Rawlston in the opening scene of Citizen Kane after the newsreel ends.

      What made Kane what he was?
      And, for that matter, what
      was he? What we've just seen are the outlines
      of a career - what's behind the
      career? What's the man? Was he good or bad?
      Strong or foolish? Tragic or silly?
      Why did he do all those things?
      What was he after?

These are questions that will not be answered by this report, but they are the type of questions the report raises. The questions make the man real to people who never knew him. How did this elevator operator find himself at the far end of the Soviet Union. Why was he in Vietnam? Why that middle name? Why the divorces? What happened in 1964?

Anyone who has lost someone close knows the complicated emotions brought on by the sorting of the collected ephemera of a life. Some survivors live with the stuff, some put it in boxes and hide it away, some throw it out. Nicholas did something harder, he tried to understand the things his dad left behind, and then he tried to make us understand. I see this as a courageous act of love. It shows on every page of the report and that's a beautiful thing.

Related: Phillip Toledano's Days With My Father, Mich Epstein's Family Business

January 25, 2011

Kim Jong Phil

Phillip Toledano has created a new body of work titled Kim Jong Phil. He writes:

"For my palette, I've copied pre-existing dictatorial art. Paintings from North Korea, statues of assorted dictators (Kim Il Sung, Laurent Kabilla, and Saddam Hussein). I had these works re-created in China, and each instance, I've replaced the great leaders with myself."

Love this.

Related: Mr. Toledando's main site, Michael Wolf's Copy Artists

October 2, 2010

Cassandra Jones

I met several awesome artists today. One was Cassandra Jones who creates art from found photographs. She makes elaborate large-scale wallpaper from repeating pictures of cheerleaders, flamingos, lightning, etc., etc. and she he makes really super short video pieces. One of my favorites is above. What's not to love about a neo-Muybridge?

December 23, 2009

Glass Jars....

Alec Soth has a new online treehouse... It's every bit intriguing as his old blog. Start with Glass Jars...

December 3, 2009

Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelves


We're releasing another pair of Jane Mount's Ideal Bookshelves today over at 20x200. One is a shelf of Tina Roth's (aka Swissmiss') daughter's books, the other is of chef George Weld's cookbooks. Both are supergreat and I recommend snapping one or both of them up.

Because Jane is part of the 20x200 family, I was lucky enough to have my kid's bookshelf painted (see below). Makes me happy every time I look at it. You can have your own bookshelf painted if you are a bit lucky (details on the 20x200 newsletter).


Note: Every time I post anything about children's books I get parents asking me for lists of book names. I've named most of the books in previous posts. I've also put most of them up together on an Amazon Heading East Bookstore.

Update: Tina just updated her site with a list/links for all the children's books in her daughter's ideal bookshelf. Many are European favs, obscure here. It's a great list/print Go and be happy.

September 12, 2009

Charlie Roberts


Someone asked me today if there's anything I miss about LA. After my wife's kitchen garden, morning swims in my own pool, and the good eats, my final answer was stopping by the Richard Heller gallery. While it's been a few years since I've been back to LA, at I can at least visit the gallery online for inspiration. Their artist lineup is top notch... hard to choose a gallery favorite, but if you forced me, it might be Norway based American painter/sculptor Charlie Roberts. I've wanted to own one of his paintings for years.

You can find a good interview of Roberts at Beautiful Decay. A radio interview can be found on KUHF.

More of Robert's work can be found at Kravets |Wehby (click on images for bigger sizes) and Vous Etes Ici,

Not Related: There's another artist named Charlie Roberts who makes videos of himself covered in peanut butter. Worth watching for the sheer horror.

September 9, 2009

The Politics of Kahlo

The LA Times art critic Christopher Knight's article titled Fighting over Frida Kahlo is the best summary I've read yet on the controversy raging around the book Finding Frida Kahlo which documents a purported cache of Kahlo ephemera. As always Kahlo is a polarizing figure and if anything the article understates the ferocity of the politics around find. The debate is curious to me as cache is broad enough that serious scholarship should be able to provide definitive answers. Many of the items documented are simply knickknacks—the type of thing an obsessive collector has a hard time throwing away, only valuable because they belonged to an icon, but the letters and drawings should be placeable within the known canon if they are legit. Full disclosure, while we haven't seen them in many years, Carlos Noyola and his wife, Leticia, the art dealers who found the cache, are family friends. The Noyolas are art obsessed, a couple who live a life almost absurdly chock full of art, and who have intimate knowledge of each of the thousands of pieces in their homes

I tend to be wary of found caches of art and found diaries, especially when they are purported to be from famous figures (most especially when the found work contains salacious material that confirms things we already believe about those figures). Double scrutiny is reserved when the origins of the artwork are shady, but then again then again the Mexican art world is small, clubby, and strange and it's easy for wonderful things to sit in boxes or hang on walls for years without a paper trail. Frida's life was not ordinary and it's certainly plausible that she would hide boxes of drawings and papers away. The Noyola's involvement has only heightened my interest as they would be the first people to be be skeptical of something that seems too good to be true. I concur with Knight, only serious scholarship will tell the tale and I look forward to seeing how this one plays out...

More on the controversy: The Guardian, New York Times, The Art Newspaper

Sidenote: For years I've heard that there is a Diego Rivera mural under several layers flat colored paint on the wall of a dining room 79th and Park Avenue. No idea if the story is true, but it would be fun to investigate someday.

Update: NY Times Article

April 20, 2009

William Lamson's Automatic

William Lamson has returned from South America where he produced a compelling and fun new body of work titled Automatic with subsections titled Sea Drawings, Molino Drawings, Kite Drawings, Tree Drawings, etc... Beautiful visuals touched by whimsy and grounded by serious purpose have come to define Lamson's art. I've found myself always looking forward to what's next and being pleasantly surprised with each new project...

September 5, 2008

20x200 Turns One


20x200 turns one today. Yay us!

July 25, 2008

Richard Pare, Russian Avant-Garde Architecture, and the Melnikov House

richard pare


Every year or so I look for an excuse to blog about Konstantin Melnikov's architectural masterpiece, his own home. This year's excuse is that house now has it's own website: Melnikov House and that Melnikov's wikipedia page has been considerably beefed up with many good links including one to the Russian Avant-garde Heritage Preservation Foundation (which led me to the excellent Russian Utopia Depository of Paper Architecture). This web meander started because I was looking at Richard Pare's work online. Pare spent 14 years shooting architecture in Russia for his celebrated book/exhibition The Lost Vanguard: Soviet Modernist Architecture, 1922–1932.

You can read more about Pare's work in the NYTimes or via this interview. Also of interest for Melnivkov fans is this obituary of his son Victor who was a well known painter. Now off with you until next year when I'll be back with more Melnivkov updates.

May 7, 2008

Kent Rogowski

Over at 20x200 we're introducing a piece by Kent Rogowski today in conjunction with the opening of his show Love = Love tonight at the Jen Bekman gallery.

In this project Rogowski makes montages from puzzles with landscape scenes. The results would make the Cubists proud. I think they're great.

Check out many more fun projects on the artist's website.

April 24, 2008

William Lamson

If you subscribe to the photography blogs in the sidebar you've probably seen William Lamson's site mentioned recently (he's recently updated to include several new projects). His work is being discussed because so many of his projects are intensely visual/amusing/thought provoking. I especially love the series titled Intervention.

William is a semi-neighbor of mine and I often see him puttering around the neighborhood doing normal everyday things which is odd after seeing his work because you imagine him going home to a room full of black balloons and guns or an all white lab full of trampolines and people in white hazmat suits. Don't know what I'm talking about? Time to click over to his site.

March 24, 2008

Edward del Rosario

If I had the money, I'd fill my kid's room with paintings by Edward del Rosario.

February 21, 2008

David Horvitz

The artist David Horvitz maintains a web page titled "THINGS FOR SALE THAT I WILL MAIL YOU". On it he offers exchange of money for his time.

For example,

If you give me $400 I will take a train to a desolate area with a packed lunch and sit down and read Anna Karenina. I will do this for 6-10 hours. I will repeat the same thing the following days until I have finally read the entire book. Finally! I am only going to do this once, so this is an edition of one only. I will send you documentation of this from the closest mailbox to where I do this. I'll also write the location of the mailbox on the envelope if you ever wish to go to where I will have sent it to you from.


This one is really serious. I'm scared to do this. But I think I have to. If you give me $10 I will think really hard of someone who I need to apologize to. I will write them a letter of apology. I will make two copies of the letter. I will send one to you and one to the person who I am apologizing to.

(via jen bekman who spends most days sitting at a desk a few feet away from me in the 20x200 office and still manages to send several IMs and many emails a day)

January 8, 2008

Mexican Retablos

SanCamilodeLelis.jpgI collect Mexican retablos- small paintings of saints on tin. One of my favorite dealers James Caswell has written an insightful book titled Saints and Sinners on Mexican devotional art with a big section devoted to retablos illustrated largely with selections from his own impressive collection. The book came out 2 years ago but somehow escaped my notice until recently. I recommend the book as well as his gallery's website which contains a good selection of links and explanatory information and where most items for sale have detailed descriptions to give context. For example on the image above:

An illustration of the Catholic belief that Camille guides and protects at the final hour. Titled at bottom San Camilo de Lelis Patron de los Agonizontes, or "San Camilo of Lelis patron of people in final agony", depicts a fascinating cast of Hieronymous Bosch like characters who represent spiritual hazards of death. San Camilo and his acolytes guard the dying soul against final temptations of a host of satanical troublemakers. A devil in the window says, "I can't" (meaning he can't get to the dying man to detour him to hell). The demon floating above the enthroned Virgin Mary threatens, "your children". The Virgin invites, ven a mi gloria, "come to my glory". Notice the dying man's little white soul flying up to the Virgin's open arms..... The devil beneath the bed says, vuelvale intentar "try again". On the left are the seven demons of the deadly sins...

November 14, 2007

Artist Talk at SVA

tracesofdevotion2_image4.jpgPhoto by Lisa Ross
This Friday Lisa Ross and I will be speaking at SVA. Lisa and I have both made made many journeys through China's western provinces and our work from those parts of the world will be the focus of the discussion. Our gallerist Nelson Hancock who also wears a professor of visual anthropology hat (and is an amazing photographer himself) will be moderating the discussion afterwards. The talk is part of the ongoing Artists Talk on Art series. Annoyingly there is an entry fee, but it's worth it to hear Lisa speak. If you don't believe me, check out what Holland Cotter has to say about her work.


School of Visual Arts
209 E 24rd Street, NYC
Friday 7:00 PM, doors open at 6:30
$7 General Admission
$3 Students
SVA students

September 10, 2007


For the last several months I've been working with my friends Jen Bekman and David Yee on a project called 20x200. 20x200 is a company that aims to change the art world. Sounds ambitious and it is. We're starting with getting high quality prints from fine artists and photographers out into the world in a way that makes sense for the artist, for the buyer, and for the gallery. We're in preview mode now, but starting next week we'll be fully launched, shipping prints, and introducing two new editions two per week... Please check it out and let us know what you think. We'll be tweaking and polishing based on your feedback... I have a feeling 20x200 is going to be a big deal.

August 22, 2007

Get Lost


Marcel Dzama's folkloric history of downtown NYC

Love Maps?

Love downtown NYC?

Then head on over to Get Lost: Artists Map Downtown New York, an exhibit at the New Museum

(via youngna's del.ico.us feed)

August 9, 2007

Keith Arnatt

Although I'm generally not big on conceptual art, I've had a soft spot for the work of Keith Arnatt since discovering a zine-like book of his images many years ago in my college art library. The book, consisting mainly of people being buried in one way or another, was unexpected, amusing, and compelling.

The Photographer's Gallery in London is running an Arnatt show through September and if there are any English readers of this blog who want to win my eternal gratitude, I'd love to be sent a catalog (catalouge!), a postcard, or even a review of the show...

Continue reading Keith Arnatt »

June 5, 2007

Answers for foxhat13

Someone who calls himself foxhat13 emailed and asked:

"Is your interest in emerging artists limited to photography or do you look at painters as well? If so do you have a couple of names for me. [clip...] Also I'm moving to New York August 15th. Do you have any tips on how to find good artists?"

The truth is that I don't keep up with the non-photography parts of the contemporary art scene as much as I'd like to. If you were to press me I might mention someone like Natalie Frank. Critics imply she can't help but give into her pre-raphaelite urges to make things visually lush, but that's exactly what I like about the work... the thumbnail on the top of this post is one of her paintings. It's titled War. These are best seen in person.

I also like many artists like Rachell Sumpter whose work has a lighter feel, but is witty, relevant, and sometimes happily subversive. The piece below is titled Baghdad Boogie.

And then there are artists like Yang Shaobin who has recently been making portraits of miners in China (he's not exactly an emerging artist but...) who I admire but never think I'd like to own one. That's how I decide if I really love something. The desire to possess is my ultimate approval stamp.yangshaobin.jpg

As for finding out about new artists the easiest thing to do is to wander around NY with a gallery guide, mark the galleries you like, get on their mailing lists and start going to shows. And then of course there are scores of art blogs. One of my favorites is paintersnyc (2 of the artists above were blogged on paintersnyc) . The artists highlighted usually have new shows and the blog always inspires fun comment threads.

I painted (badly but of course with great enthusiasm) when I was in my 20's and in my own life the collection of specific paintings that mean something to me is much larger than the collection of iconic photos with similar impact so perhaps I should pay more attention to painting... and yet I can't help shake the feeling that contemporary painting forms almost no imprint on culture at large, that the canon is ossified, and that what's left is artists making art for each other or to be hung above sofas in fancy apartments... My wife says that today everyone thinks of themselves as an artist or a potential artist which might be part of the problem.

The reason photography is so exciting is that the canon—especially the art photography canon—is still largely unwritten. Photography is a medium in it's infancy and its artists don't suffer the weight of history nearly so much as those who paint. Also, perhaps just perhaps, because it transforms easily into bits to be seen on computer screens photography has a chance of staying relevant in a world less interested in the work of people who do something as archaically wonderful as putting paint on canvas.

June 1, 2007

Man Ray Archive

"Why? Who cares? Who doesn't care? Dada is dead. Or is Dada still alive? We cannot revive something alive just as we cannot revive anything that is dead.
Is Dada dead?
Is Dada alive?
Dada is.

Man Ray
July 8 1958"

The original handwritten note and an extensive archive of Man Ray images can be found at the Man Ray Trust.

April 16, 2007

Brancusi Self Portraits

Have you ever met anyone who didn't love Brancusi's sculpture? I never have.

One of my favorite Brancusi facts is that he considered his careful photographs of his sculpture just as important as the sculpture itself. What I didn't know until today is that he was an avid self portraitist...


Another bit of fascinating Brancusi trivia (involving Edward Steichen) can be found in this blog post titled: Bird in Flight, Brancusi, & US Customs law.

I've included an additional self-portrait of Brancusi (as well as one of a young Edward Steichen) after the jump...

(All these self portraits were found on the Réunion des Musées Nationaux photo site. Start at the portfolios link to sample the scope of the collection).

Continue reading Brancusi Self Portraits »

February 1, 2007

In My Language


A video posted by autistic woman titled "In My Language" has sparked lively online debates on personhood, the essence of language, and the nature of her condition (some claim that someone who expresses herself so clearly can't be autistic). While these debates interest me, they weren't the questions that came to my mind on seeing the video. Instead I was fascinated by purity of experience it portrayed, a kind of purity most often seen in children, and which artists are always talking about trying to reclaim: a state of elemental awareness, an almost painful sensitivity to the world...

Last weekend 60 minutes profiled Daniel Tammet, a savant who was able to recite pi to 22,514 digits (it took him 5 hours), and was able to learn conversational Icelandic within a week. Unlike most other known savants, he can interact fairly normally with other people in everyday social situations. And unlike most other savants he can narrate his mental process. Numbers for him aren't abstract things, but objects with mental geographies, "Every number up to 10,000, I can visualize.... [each] has it's own color, has it's own shape, has it's own texture," he explained in the interview. He spoke of the beauty (and ugliness) of numbers and illustrates their forms as landscape-like paintings.

I believe savants are not much different that the woman in the first video, it's just that the focus of their intense gaze happen to to have practical application in our world—descriptions of numbers versus descriptions of water or some other more ineffable obsession. The cerebral wiring that allows this focus, limits human interaction. Daniel Tammet for all his startling abilities can't remember faces a few hours after meeting a person, instead he memorizes the number of buttons on a coat, or the count of stripes on a shirt, but even so Tammet is unusual amongst autistics. He can have human relationships. Most severely autistic people have trouble relating to anyone. What "In my Language" was saying, I thought, was that this was ok. The author wanted no pity. Her life is not empty, her gestures are not randomness, or madness as is often supposed by outside viewers, just the opposite, it is a life emotionally overfull- her brain is saturated with dense thought much of it beyond our comprehension.

Most anyone who has dabbled in the arts, I think, can relate to these inward impulses. We become immersed in the clarity of a particular interaction, in the love of the word, in an idea, in a particular emotion, or in a fleeting vision and the artistic instinct is to fix time telegraphing the moment so it can be remembered. We live for those moments of heady transparency when the mundane veneer of our lives is peeled back to reveal something extraordinary. But of course usually we fail even at holding on to the thing for ourselves. It is the rare individual who can marry impulse, idea, and technique to produce something that allows us to peek into that hidden world of extravagant beauty surrounding us... Despite our clumsy fumblings the important thing I think is to try. Because in trying we build bridges between the worlds and we become more adept at living in them both.

Related: Tammet on Wikipedia (contains many other links)

November 24, 2006

Glitter and Doom

The Metropolitan Museum is displaying a must see exhibition of portraits from the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement. The show is titled 'Glitter and Doom: German Portraits from the 1920s' and runs through February. The New York Times ran a nice review of the exhibition this weekend rightfully highlighting the Otto Dix portrait above titled "Lady With Mink and Veil". The review speculates "the image may depict one of the many war widows who turned to prostitution to keep afloat."

A book of the exhibition is available from the Yale University Press.

The artistic culture of Weimar Germany always fascinates and looking at the images one always wonders what happened to this rowdy saturated world; what were the stories of the sitters in the years that followed? Many reviewers then and now, call these portraits grotesque, but I wonder if the artists artists saw them that way or if they were celebrating the extreme in the manner of Almodovar or Diane Arbus, only in a more extreme political climate...

More reviews: New York Magazine, DP, CultureGrrrl

October 2, 2006

Man Ray's Home Movies

In case you haven't discovered it, UbuWeb is an archive of avant-garde and outsider arts, a rich repository of films, mp3s, papers, and images. The ubu film archive is a particular favorite with films by everyone from Duchamp to Leger to Rauschenberg.... My only complaint is that films are sometimes presented very small and in mac-unfriendly formats. Avant-garde film not your thing? Head over to the 365 days project which includes 365 outsider mp3s. There is bound to be something that delights. Start with Muhammad Ali singing Ali's Historical Theme Song (download songs by clicking the mp3 document icon).

September 27, 2006

The Beastly Bombing

My friend Julien is an equal opportunity offender and one of my favorite people on the planet. His play THE BEASTLY BOMBING
or A Terrible Tale of Terrorists Tamed by the Tangles of True Love
opens September 29 for an eight week run at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles. From the title you've probably guessed it's a terrorist farce told in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan operetta. Several songs from the production are available on the website. I suggest you start with The House of Saud. If you are in LA don't miss this show.

August 28, 2006

Noah Kalina

A few weeks ago I urged Noah to turn his 6 years worth of photo-a-day's into a movie...now he's done it. The results are hypnotic...and a little bit sad. The video covers January 11, 2000 - July 31, 2006.

These are the original stills and this is Noah's excellent portfolio site.

August 13, 2006

Ahree Lee

Artist Ahree Lee took pictures of herself everyday from 2001 to 2004 and edited the results together as a movie, a clip of which became popular on youtube. The original can be seen in it's entirety (after an annoying long ad) on atom films.

Noah, it's time to make that movie...

More obsessive photography and time related projects can be found at c71123.com.

UPDATE: The atom link is dead, but you can see the film on youtube.

May 16, 2006

Ole Worm

This recreation of Ole Worm's one room museum by artist Rosamond Purcell pretty much made my day. (via the Kirshner Society) Images of Museum Wormianum always seem to inspire a certain gothic sensibility in artists.

May 1, 2006

Albert Barnes on art education

From a radio address by Albert C. Barnes on the establishment of his foundation.

"Stated in simple language, the fundamental ideas of our educational program are:

Art is not a phase of life apart from work-a-day world, to which one may turn in moments of leisure or perhaps in the name of so-called 'culture', or in a spirit of worship. In the Foundation's courses art is taken out of its usually detached, esoteric world and is linked up with life itself, because all the qualities which give painting its value are those which are found in various phases of everyday life; and art has value only because it expresses those qualities. In other worlds, 'art is a fragment of life presented to us enriched in feeling by means of the creative spirit of the artist.'

We do not teach students how to paint, for that would be like teaching an injured person how to scream. We teach them how to learn to see; that is to perceive the meanings in events of everyday life, as well as in paintings, sculpture, music, furniture, objects in wrought iron, trees and flowers.

We try to eradicate the almost universal, bad, confusing habit of looking at a painting for what it is not intended to be - information about subject matter, reminiscence, likeness to familiar objects, etc...

We endeavor to create new habits of perception by means of objective observation of the relationship of line, light, color, and space that constitute form. We study the artist's language and how at all periods of time it has been affected by his environment in other words, we study the great traditions."

Is this kind of pragmatic idealism dead in today's world? Haven't thought about it enough to straighten out my thoughts but there it is, some food for thought.

More about the Barnes foundations in this episode of Weekend Edition aired a few years ago. On an stranger note it is said that Barnes' ghost still wanders the halls of the galleries he built.

January 18, 2006

Artist Portraits

I remembered this portrait of Mark Ryden when reading this essay on artist portraits in the Village Voice. I've seen Ryden in person a couple of times and he was always somewhat non-descript. The portrait tries to create mythology... and perhaps it is successful because now when I see a Ryden image I instantly picture of him in his studio by that portrait of Lincoln... Similarly while reading the article I could only think of one or two iconic images for each artist mentioned. For me the same is true for musicians whether they be Billie Holiday, Hank Williams, or the Cramps. For each, one photograph eclipsed all others creating an indelible image in my head. This holds true in the personal sphere... My Tia Elva will forever be in her flowing wedding dress, her stern rancher husband standing uncomfortably behind her... I wonder if, in this age where digital images are so cheap, where so much of our lives are catalogued, whether this phenomenon still holds true... Perhaps our own personal iconic images are just that, the pixel icons we use onscreen to represent ourselves... Sad really. They seem so small.

June 6, 2005

Megan Whitmarsh

I don't know anything about her, but any artist with a yeti fixation is cool with me. Enjoy the art of Megan Whitmarsh. She also makes short films.

Choose Another Subject