Washington D.C. Has Some Fabulous Art!

February 25, 2010

Living in New York City, I sometimes feel myself getting consumed with this city’s art scene. There’s so much to do and see here, I can’t imagine any other city in the US coming close to my own with respect to art. However, after a recent weekend trip to Washington D.C., I can see how wrong my parochial views were, as it seems our nation’s capital has more to see than monuments and how money is made. There are some pretty amazing art museums in D.C. (most of which, are free), and I will never again brush off another US city’s art scene!

Some of D.C.’s best:

The Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden displays contemporary art, showing some of the best work created during the past 30 years. The museum holds 11,500 carefully selected works (including films). I really enjoyed “Josef Albers: Innovation and Inspiration” (currently on exhibit through April 11th), which is a retrospective of the artist’s 50-year career. His boldly colored images, many of which create optical illusions, are quite intriguing and mystically draw viewers (at least this viewer) into a trancelike state.

D.C.’s famed National Gallery of Art houses a comprehensive collection that includes European and American paintings and sculptures, photographs and works on paper. While I didn’t get to see this museum while in D.C., apparently, the building is “absolutely stunning.” The museum’s Sculpture Garden includes modern and contemporary art (as well as a fountain turned ice rink during the winter).

The Smithsonian Freer and Sackler Galleries are also worth a visit, exhibiting eclectic art from around the world. “Perspectives: Anish Kapoor,” located in the museum’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery was probably my favorite thing to see in all of D.C. Maybe I’m overly enthused by contemporary Asian art, but I could stare at Kapoor’s “S-Curve” all day long. The polished steel pieces create an ongoing convex and concave wall, and I can’t really explain it, but this seemingly simple sculpture ends up revealing hidden complexities.

The Newseum, which documents journalism and the media through time, is also worth a visit (even though it’s not free – but each ticket is valid for two days). I know it’s not an art museum, but I found this museum to be extremely interesting and visually appealing. You can read the daily front page news from all 50 states – as well as those of nations around the world; there’s also a riveting wall of international front page headlines from the day after 9/11. The largest piece of the Berlin Wall outside Germany is also currently on display – as well as a photography exhibit containing pictures of international athletes.

“Drive” into Motown for Two Unique Exhibitions

January 27, 2010

Two galleries in the Detroit area are celebrating Motown’s automobile – related history with exhibitions dedicated to cars and the automibile industry. As the move of car factories to foreign countries and recent (and past) economic problems have caused an increase in Detroit’s crime, poverty, unemployment and the abandonment (and subsequent demolition) of factories and warehouses, Ferndale’s Susanne Hilberry Gallery is currently exhibiting a relevant –  and fabulously oxymoronic – display of beautiful pictures that show industrial collapse.

Susanne Hilberry’s “Drive” shows the work of Detroit sculptor and photographer Scott Hocking, who combines formal landscape and architectural photography to create eerie images of apocalypse-esque scenes. Images include those of an East Side Detroit neighborhood with roads to nowhere  and a skeletal Shanghai factory juxtaposed to a dense forest. Hocking tends to pair pictures of plush rural land with destruction and ruins in his creatively creepy works. It seems the artist is expressing a (hopefully) exaggerated view of how badly Detroit has deteriorated and how strangely abandoned Detroit, containing only about a million people, looks and feels.

Contrastingly, the David Klein Gallery‘s “Drive” contains less gloomy works by Liz Cohen, Timothy Buwalda and Cheryl Kelley.  In this exhibition, the three artists display their talented pieces whose connecting theme is America’s love affair with the car. Cohen’s glossy, elaborate, and humorous images depict the artist during her ongoing quest to fix up an old East German Trabant (apparently, a notoriously mediocre vehicle) and take it apart piece-by-piece to transform it into a Chevrolet El Camino.

Kelley takes a different approach; her photorealistic oil-on-aluminum portraits of classic cars shimmer as light reflects on shiny panels. Buwalda concentrate’s on a car’s strength, displaying cars as heroic and powerful.

The two exhibitions are unique in the messages and moods they convey as well as in the diversity of materials and techniques each artist used to create his / her varied works. However, both convey visions and views of America’s fascination (and perhaps, in Hocking’s case, a love-hate relationship) with cars and industry and the history behind them.

Click here to see what else is going on in the Detroit Art Scene.

Click here to read the entire article associated with this post.

The Burj Dubai: World’s Tallest Building and Architectural Marvel

December 18, 2009

At 2,684 feet high, the Burj Dubai will open next month – taking on the title of the “tallest building in the world.” While financial woes have plagued Dubai in the past few months, the emirate has reason to celebrate its newest architectural wonder.

Chicago-based architect, Adrian Smith, says the building’s creation was a practical response to harsh competition. Dubai-based developer, Emaar Properties built the tower to rival Nakheel - famous for its land -reclamation projects (i.e. the Palm Islands and the World – man-made luxury island groups in the Persian Gulf).

It’s refreshing to know that the world’s new tallest building is aesthetically pleasing – as skyscrapers aren’t typically known for their visual beauty. The Burj Dubai’s triangular structure resembles a modern steel castle. It’s definitely unique in form and design, and it looks like Dubai is racking up an international reputation for its stunning architecture.

As a recent article from NY Magazine says,

Dubai was a place where people came together to test what was possible. Engineers from London worked with New York architects and Korean contractors to marshal armies of indentured Pakistanis and Indians—globalization at work—to build monuments to their patrons’ ostensibly bottomless wealth. Various marvels rose. More were imagined. But it turns out that even with loose credit, exploited labor, central control, caviar dreams, and the most venal intentions, you still cannot defy the financial laws of gravity.

Read more about Dubai and its architecture by clicking here.

Gerhard Richter’s Powerful Display

November 24, 2009

Artist Gerhard Richter creates uniquely serene paintings using seemingly elementary techniques of smudging and blurring. However, the German artist’s works are anything but ordinary. His techniques actually go beyond typical – the exact methods behind the artist’s smudging and blurring, which suggest the use of a squeegee, are enigmatic.

The artist is currently showing his work at Marian Goodman Gallery in New York City.  The displayed series of  glowing alabaster paintings evoke contrasting feelings and reactions. While his paintings seem serene and calm, they are also ominous and complex.

Richter's "September" (2009)

His new show includes works  that commemorate 9/11. One small print, “September,” (see above image) depicts two obscured glittery shapes that loosely resemble the Twin Towers as dull grey smoke swarms around them. The image is streaky and abstract – yet mesmerizing.

In a recent review from NY Magazine, one critic expresses his praises for the German master,

He observes his process as much as he controls it, adding inscrutability, surprise, strangeness, and awe to his work. His marbled sweeps and sluices of high-key color, his clashing dissolves and blends of flecked, blazing paint, his erasure of spatial demarcations, and his radiance make him the most purely optical postwar artist since Dan Flavin, and one of the greatest painters alive.

 

 

NYC’s Edifying Edifices

November 5, 2009

While navigating the crowded streets of New York City, most people (at least non-tourists and non-architecture enthusiasts) tend to pay little, if any, attention to the buildings around them. In addition to talking on cell phones, using PDAs, listening to i-pods, and thinking about their busy schedules, New Yorkers seem to view the city’s, skyscrapers, highrises, and other buildings as pretty standard and uninteresting (with the exception of a few noteworthy landmarks, i.e. the Flatiron building, the Guggenheim, the Chrysler Building, etc). However, this may soon change, as the city revamps the architecture of certain neighborhoods.

As an article from NY Magazine highlights,

In the Bronx, a shiny new firehouse stands out on its block of Washington Avenue like a bright plastic bucket on a rainy day. It’s not just the flame-colored aluminum façade, or the jaunty way the zinc cladding is slung across the roof, that makes it distinctive; it’s a combination of toughness, efficiency, and whimsy. Instead of the classic rowhouse with a big red door, the architects at Polshek Partnership have made Rescue Company 3 a showpiece of logistical economy, a tightly organized locker for equipment, vehicles, and men. The upper story looks as if it were hinged to the ground floor; you want to flip up the top and pop out the trucks.

stealthbydesign091109_560Mayor Bloomberg’s  commissioner of the Department of Design and Construction, David Burney, a British-born architect, is responsible for the city’s additions and changes in architecture. Even prior to 2004, when Bloomberg appointed Burney, the architect has played a role in advocating for architects and devoting time to public projects.

The article continues,

Burney’s record as an architects’ advocate predates his current job. A few blocks from the Bushwick firehouse, the Saratoga Avenue Community Center is the delayed result of his tenure as design director at the New York City Housing Authority. The lovingly detailed golden-brick annex, by George Ranalli, enlivens a standard-drear housing project. Inside, sunlight drops in through clerestory windows onto hardwood floors, and indestructible cement panels encircle the space like ramparts, making the room feel at once warm, safe, and grand. The building has an aura of protective dignity—nearly a year after completion, the high outside wall remains free of the graffiti that has metastasized across the street.

Click here to read Justin Davidson’s entire NY Magazine article.

Ray Caesar

October 13, 2009
Ray Caesar creates fantastic, grimly hopeful and gravely whimsical images of wizened children who radiate an enigmatic serenity. Sprouting bio-mechanical limbs and appendages, the figures are otherworldly, a melding of sci fi fantasy, lush landscapes, and Victorian sensibilities. Working for 17 years in the Art and Photography Department of The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, Ray documented things such as child abuse, surgical reconstruction, psychology and animal research. The artist explains, “I often awake in the middle of the night and realize I have been wondering the hallways and corridors of the giant hospital. It is clear to me that this is the birthplace of all my imagery.” These experiences continually haunt and present themselves in his dreamy images, which draw inspiration from the works of Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, and Paul Cadmus.
Ray’s work is most astonishing in the fact it is all digitally created; most people assume they are looking at paintings due to the seamless blending and “painterly quality” of the work as well as its unique emotional impact. Creating models in a 3D modeling software called Maya, he then wraps them in painted and manipulated texture maps. Each model is set up with an invisible skeleton that allows him to pose each figure in its 3D enviroment. Digital lights and cameras are added with shadows and reflections simulating that of a mysterious and strange “real” world.
I recently came across the work of British artist Ray Caesar, and was first drawn in by the eerily scaled body parts and the fine line between cute and grotesque that his work straddles.  Take a look for yourself:
Madre (2006), Varnished Ultrachrome on Panel
Madre (2006), Varnished Ultrachrome on Panel
Kitten (2003), Giclee on Premier Art Hotpress
Kitten (2003), Giclee on Premier Art Hotpress
Metatron (2008), Digital Ultrachrome on Paper
Metatron (2008), Digital Ultrachrome on Paper
Mourning Glory (2008), Varnished Ultrachrome on Panel

Mourning Glory (2008), Varnished Ultrachrome on Panel

From Jonathan Levine Gallery:
Ray Caesar creates fantastic, grimly hopeful and gravely whimsical images of wizened children who radiate an enigmatic serenity. Sprouting bio-mechanical limbs and appendages, the figures are otherworldly, a melding of sci fi fantasy, lush
landscapes, and Victorian sensibilities. Working for 17 years in the Art and Photography Department of The Hospital For Sick Children in Toronto, Ray documented things such as child abuse, surgical reconstruction, psychology and animal research. The artist explains, “I often awake in the middle of the night and realize I have been wondering the hallways and corridors of the giant hospital. It is clear to me that this is the birthplace of all my imagery.” These experiences continually haunt and present themselves in his dreamy images, which draw inspiration from the works of Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, and Paul Cadmus.
Ray’s work is most astonishing in the fact it is all digitally created; most people assume they are looking at paintings due to the seamless blending and “painterly quality” of the work as well as its unique emotional impact. Creating models in a 3D modeling software called Maya, he then wraps them in painted and manipulated texture maps. Each model is set up with an invisible skeleton that allows him to pose each figure in its 3D enviroment. Digital lights and cameras are added with shadows and reflections simulating that of a mysterious and strange “real” world.

Upcoming: Tim Burton at MoMA

September 23, 2009

I clearly remember spending weeks of my childhood terrified after watching The Nightmare before Christmas.  There was just something about those creepy elongated figures that completely weirded me out.  Little did I know that Tim Burton had even more creeps up his sleeves, and they would come crawling out with each new film.  The Museum of Modern Art will be hosting a retrospective of his work, opening in November.

This major career retrospective on Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), consisting of a gallery exhibition and a film series, considers Burton’s career as a director, producer, writer, and concept artist for live-action and animated films, along with his work as a fiction writer, photographer and illustrator. Following the current of his visual imagination from his earliest childhood drawing through his mature work, the exhibition presents artwork generated during the conception and production of his films, and highlights a number of unrealized projects and never-before-seen pieces, as well as student art, his earliest non-professional films, and examples of his work as a storyteller and graphic artist for non-film projects. The opposing themes of adolescence and adulthood, and the elements of sentiment, cynicism, and humor inform his work in a variety of mediums—drawings, paintings, storyboards, digital and moving-image formats, puppets and maquettes, props, costumes, ephemera, sketchbooks, and cartoons. Taking inspiration from sources in pop culture, Burton has reinvented Hollywood genre filmmaking as a spiritual experience, influencing a generation of young artists working in film, video, and graphics.
Burton’s films include Vincent (1982), Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), The Nightmare Before Christmas (as creator and producer) (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Big Fish (2003), Corpse Bride (2005), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Sweeney Todd (2007); writing and Web projects include The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories (1997) and Stainboy (2000).
  Tim Burton. Untitled (The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories). 1982–84. Pen and ink, marker, and colored pencil on paper, 10 x 9 (25.4 x 22.9 cm). Private collection. © 2009 Tim Burton

Tim Burton. Untitled (The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy and Other Stories). 1982–84. Pen and ink, marker, and colored pencil on paper, 10 x 9" (25.4 x 22.9 cm). Private collection. © 2009 Tim Burton

Tim Burton

November 22, 2009–April 26, 2010

Theater 1 Gallery

Theater 2 Gallery

Special Exhibitions Gallery, third floor

Museum Lobby

This major career retrospective on Tim Burton (American, b. 1958), consisting of a gallery exhibition and a film series, considers Burton’s career as a director, producer, writer, and concept artist for live-action and animated films, along with his work as a fiction writer, photographer and illustrator. Following the current of his visual imagination from his earliest childhood drawing through his mature work, the exhibition presents artwork generated during the conception and production of his films, and highlights a number of unrealized projects and never-before-seen pieces, as well as student art, his earliest non-professional films, and examples of his work as a storyteller and graphic artist for non-film projects. The opposing themes of adolescence and adulthood, and the elements of sentiment, cynicism, and humor inform his work in a variety of mediums—drawings, paintings, storyboards, digital and moving-image formats, puppets and maquettes, props, costumes, ephemera, sketchbooks, and cartoons. Taking inspiration from sources in pop culture, Burton has reinvented Hollywood genre filmmaking as a spiritual experience, influencing a generation of young artists working in film, video, and graphics.

Burton’s films include Vincent (1982), Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), The Nightmare Before Christmas (as creator and producer) (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Big Fish (2003), Corpse Bride (2005), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Sweeney Todd (2007); writing and Web projects include The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories (1997) and Stainboy (2000).

The CATcerto

August 31, 2009

This video of the CATcerto has been making the rounds on the internet, and although it is very very funny, I’m appreciating it more as an art piece.  See for yourself…

August 24, 2009

The name of this D.C. show intrigued me immediately – somehow it seems a little creepy, in a good way….

PaiMade Flesh
June 20-September 13, 2009
Paint Made Flesh examines the ways in which European and American painters have used oil paint and the human body to convey enduring human vulnerabilities, among them anxieties about desire, appearance, illness, aging, war, and death. In the tradition of great figure painting stretching back to Rembrandt and Titian, the 34 artists in the exhibition, working in the years since World War II, exploit oil paint’s visual and tactile properties to mirror those of the body, while exploring the body’s capacity to reflect the soul.
Drawn from private and public collections and arranged by chronology and nationality, the 43 paintings in the exhibition reflect a wide range of styles. Strong colors and vigorous brushwork associated with German expressionism give crude life to figures by artists ranging from the San Francisco Bay area painters to a younger generation, including Markus Lüpertz and Susan Rothenberg. Candid depictions of flesh by British painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud suggest psychological pain at the margins of society, while paint as skin betrays the inner feelings of Jenny Saville’s swollen females.
Other artists represented include Karel Appel, Cecily Brown, Francesco Clemente, John Currin, Eric Fischl, Willem de Kooning Leon Kossoff, David Park, Julian Schnabel, and Pablo Picasso.

Paint Made Flesh at The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C.

June 20-September 13, 2009

Paint Made Flesh examines the ways in which European and American painters have used oil paint and the human body to convey enduring human vulnerabilities, among them anxieties about desire, appearance, illness, aging, war, and death. In the tradition of great figure painting stretching back to Rembrandt and Titian, the 34 artists in the exhibition, working in the years since World War II, exploit oil paint’s visual and tactile properties to mirror those of the body, while exploring the body’s capacity to reflect the soul.

Drawn from private and public collections and arranged by chronology and nationality, the 43 paintings in the exhibition reflect a wide range of styles. Strong colors and vigorous brushwork associated with German expressionism give crude life to figures by artists ranging from the San Francisco Bay area painters to a younger generation, including Markus Lüpertz and Susan Rothenberg. Candid depictions of flesh by British painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud suggest psychological pain at the margins of society, while paint as skin betrays the inner feelings of Jenny Saville’s swollen females.

Other artists represented include Karel Appel, Cecily Brown, Francesco Clemente, John Currin, Eric Fischl, Willem de Kooning Leon Kossoff, David Park, Julian Schnabel, and Pablo Picasso.

Jan von Holleben

August 19, 2009

I recently came across the work of Jan von Holleben and instantly fell in love.  His beautiful photographs make me (1) miss my childhood desperately, (2) realize that you can actually be a child at heart, at any age, and (3) want to be a better artist myself, more immediate and simple in my approach.

Von Holleben’s biography (via his website), is below – his personal story and history seem to be perfectly reflected in his photographs:

biography
“I once ruled the worlds. Not just one, but many. I ruled them with mirrors and lenses. I ruled them with light and shadow and time. Sometimes I ruled with a trick of the eye. Through my camera, an entire cosmos took shape, and each world within it seemed to operate by a certain unfamiliar logic, like a sort of magical clockwork.”
Born in 1977 in Cologne and brought up in the southern German countryside, Jan von Holleben lived most of his youth in an alternative commune and identifies a strong connection between the development of his photographic work and the influence of his parents, a cinematographer and child therapist. At the age of 13, he followed his father’s photographic career by picking up a camera and experimenting with all sorts of „magical tricks“, developing his photographic imagination and skills with friends and family and later honing his technique in commercial settings. After pursuing studies in teaching children with disabilities at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Freiburg, he moved to London, earned a degree in the Theory and History of Photography at Surrey Institute of Art and Design, and became submerged within the London photographic scene, where he worked as picture editor, art director and photographic director. He quickly set up two photographic collectives, Young Photographers United and photodebut, followed more recently by the Photographer’s Office. His body of photographic work focusing on the ‘homo ludens’ – the man who learns through play, is itself built from a playful integration of pedagogical theory with his own personal experiences of play and memories of childhood.
Jan von Holleben’s work has been exhibited internationally and published widely throughout the world.
His favourite collaborators are: his friends and any pirates, fairies, dragons, monsters and punks that are about. Also the sun behind some tiny clouds, Zeit Magazin, Neon Magazine Dazed&Confused, Geo and Steidl Publishers.
Otherwise he greatly fancies loads of cups of green tea, Bircher Müsli, colourful socks & sneakers, his bike and walking in the mountains, Yo yo yo!

biography

“I once ruled the worlds. Not just one, but many. I ruled them with mirrors and lenses. I ruled them with light and shadow and time. Sometimes I ruled with a trick of the eye. Through my camera, an entire cosmos took shape, and each world within it seemed to operate by a certain unfamiliar logic, like a sort of magical clockwork.”

Born in 1977 in Cologne and brought up in the southern German countryside, Jan von Holleben lived most of his youth in an alternative commune and identifies a strong connection between the development of his photographic work and the influence of his parents, a cinematographer and child therapist. At the age of 13, he followed his father’s photographic career by picking up a camera and experimenting with all sorts of „magical tricks“, developing his photographic imagination and skills with friends and family and later honing his technique in commercial settings. After pursuing studies in teaching children with disabilities at the Pädagogische Hochschule in Freiburg, he moved to London, earned a degree in the Theory and History of Photography at Surrey Institute of Art and Design, and became submerged within the London photographic scene, where he worked as picture editor, art director and photographic director. He quickly set up two photographic collectives, Young Photographers United and photodebut, followed more recently by the Photographer’s Office. His body of photographic work focusing on the ‘homo ludens’ – the man who learns through play, is itself built from a playful integration of pedagogical theory with his own personal experiences of play and memories of childhood.

Jan von Holleben’s work has been exhibited internationally and published widely throughout the world.

His favourite collaborators are: his friends and any pirates, fairies, dragons, monsters and punks that are about. Also the sun behind some tiny clouds, Zeit Magazin, Neon Magazine Dazed&Confused, Geo and Steidl Publishers.

Otherwise he greatly fancies loads of cups of green tea, Bircher Müsli, colourful socks & sneakers, his bike and walking in the mountains, Yo yo yo!

The Balloonflyer

The Balloonflyer

The Ghostbusters

The Ghostbusters

The Aladdin

The Aladdin

Click here to see more images of Jan von Holleben’s work from the Independent’s website


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