Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Merry Season!

It's that most celebratory time of year. What could be more fun than designing a Christmas tree - especially if you're an artist?

Here are some examples of creativity in Holiday Trees:

Every year the Tate Museum features an artist's Christmas Tree sculpture. This one is by Shirazeh Houshiary:

Patrick Roger created the tallest tree at 32 feet using 4 TONS OF CHOCOLATE!

To design a tree from recycled material, Kyle Martin created a wonderful functional tree out of recycled polyester strapping.

The desert of Sedona, Arizona, provided the local flora in the form of a cactus.

Jolanta Midtien used 32,000 Sprite Bottles to create her masterpiece.

What would life be without a Pac-Man tree in Madrid, Spain?

Thinking of all the purchases at this time of year became an ode to the shopping cart for Anthony Schmitt.

What this little humble tree lacks in glitz is more than compensated by the painstaking work of Dalton Ghetti.
Lastly, there is my wish for you, dear and loyal reader. May you know all the joy, smiles, warmth and laughter of a Merry Holiday - however you celebrate it. R. Atencio

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Master Weavers - of Glass!

A few years ago, I saw a dish that was woven from glass. I couldn't help but wonder aloud how it was done. The memory of that beautiful dish stayed in my mind's eye.

Then, earlier this year, I was stunned by a photo of an entire kimono created with woven glass! My interest in how this was done and who was doing these masterful works grew.

Of course, there were methods described on various sites, but none were anything like the finest, thinnest glass strips I'd seen shaped into the beautiful and colorful art pieces. As I dug deeper into the question of "how," I found out that these are closely-guarded glass artist techniques. What I did find out how painstaking this work is. Some pieces can take 3-4 months to complete.

Then there was the question of "who" were the masters? I found three - including the kimono makers. There is Paula Marksbury, who makes beautiful dishes. (She's in her largest kiln)

For draping glass, look no further than William Zweifel

Lastly, there's the team of Eric Markow and Thom Norris who not only create kimonos, but also origami birds, skulls, and a 7-foot cactus.
Gives a whole new concept to "weaving" agreed?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Not Just Take a Photo?

Before photography, hyperrealism was important because people wanted records of events, possessions, and ceremonies.There was only one way to accomplish that goal - hire an artist. (17th Century Flemish paintings)
Since photography came into its own in the late 1800s, artists were free to paint in more abstract manners. The movement that comes to mind as exemplifying this freedom was Impressionism.

Yet, today, there are certain artists who paint works that are referred to as "photorealism." They are so technically masterful that often the question arises, "Is that a photo or a painting?"

There have been several recent articles written about visual artists who paint photorealistically (hyperrealism). The thrust of these articles is to ask the question, "What's the point? "

Those who disagree that photography has replaced hyperrealistic painting insist that a photograph cannot capture what the hand of a painter can do - greater depth of field, understanding of nature, combinations of real and imagined.

Below are the works of three well-known photorealistic painters. The question is: Where do you think? Would it be just as well to take a photo? (click on image to enlarge)
Roberto Bernardi: (Oils)

Steve Mills: (Oils)

Eric Christensen: (Watercolor)
(He also has a video:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Does Art Still Shock?

What is shock art? According to Wikipedia it is "...contemporary art ...disturbing imagery, sound or scents to create a shocking experience." However, I contend that art has been shocking the viewers for much longer. After all, being contemporary can mean contemporary to the times.

Consider Daumier's "Rue Transnonain" (1834)

Then there was Manet.  For example, consider the effect in 1863 of  his "Luncheon on the Grass." 

In the early 20th Century, there was Duchamp's "Fountain." (1917)

  Today, these works created a hundred years ago or so, do not carry the same effect on the public.

So, what shocks today? Journalists have written that maybe we've reached the end of what can be described as shock art. What do you think? Are artists no longer able to shock us?


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Liu Bolin: Hiding Everywhere

Why is it governments feel threatened by artists? I ask because history is rife with stories of artists being jailed, their art destroyed and their studios demolished. In modern times, the dubious distinction seems to belong to the Chinese government. (Remember my blog on Ai Wei-Wei? Archive: May, 2012)

In 2005, the Beijing artist village with about 100 studios was razed by the government. Among the artists who suffered the loss was Liu Bolin (1973-) - an internationally recognized artist who has exhibited his photography and sculpture all over the world.

Bolin understood that the government regarded art as unimportant and artists as being without social status. With that in mind, Bolin created the series "Hiding in the City." It was a silent protest to the role of artists in the culture.

He photographed himself in scenes of soldiers, temples, "Made in China" toy stores, and all sorts of scenes. He had himself painted to match the scene as the "Invisible Artist." (The painting of his body can take as long as 10 hours!)

Below are some of Bolin "hiding." (Click on image to enlarge)

What do you think of his silent protest?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

František Kupka: Evolution of an Artist

One of my delights is to find art books with beautiful reproductions of an artist's works. I was in a local used book store when I came upon an artist who was new to me. His name? František Kupka (1871-1957).

The colors and the rhythm of his works were captivating. I wanted to know more about him.

Kupka was born in Bohemia and studied fine arts at the academy in Prague. He continued his studies in Vienna and Paris. During the course of his career, he evolved from the realism of his studies to pure abstraction. (He was a pioneer and co-founder of the abstract art movement.)

Let's move through the evolution of this gifted artist, yes?

"The Book Lover" (1897)

"The Wave" (1902)

"The Cathedral" (1912-13)

"Creation" (1920)

"Two Grays II" (1928)

"Sourire O" (1933)

"Prism" (1947)

Do you have a favorite period of his artistic evolution? Could you say why?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ivan Lovatt: From Chicken Wire to Sculptures

Last post was about Elizabeth Berrien, an artist who uses wire in a lacy, loose way to create images. This time, the artist also makes art from wire, but in an entirely different way.

Ivan Lovatt, (1966-) created art from a very early age. He experimented and explored with many media. His experimentation with chicken wire sculpturing led Lovatt to an unusual yet personally satisfactory sculptural medium.

He sculpts mammals, insects, and portraits in a compact, direct manner that has brought him accolades and many awards. (Click on image for larger view) Your thoughts?