Sunday, November 30, 2014

Did That Photography Just Wink At Me?

If what you are looking at is one of Robert Wilson’s video portraits it is well within the realms of possibility. Best known for his experimental theatre productions, his 1976 production of Einstein on the Beach has been described as “one of the greatest artistic achievements of the 20th century”, he excels in using technology across a variety of Art forms.

Over the last 10 years Wilson has created 50 plus of his video portraits. Utilizing the talents of animals and human performers these portraits blur the movement of video with the captured moment of still photography. From the black panther in Ivory to the porcupine in Boris, from Johnny Depp to Princess Caroline of Monaco, at first glance they all look like well crafted photographs. But if you stay with them for a while subtle changes in lighting, small movements like the blink of the eyes or a shift in position to relieve pressure animate the works whilst not disturbing the pose. With musical and an oft time disjointed spoken narratives as scores they impose a Zen like aesthetic, an application of the brakes to the clatter of 21st Century. An invitation to stop and smell the roses.

Wilson’s latest addition to this body of work employs Lady Gaga as the subject. There are four videos in this series; “Flying” rooted in the ancient Japanese rope bondage of Shibari is an outlier to the other three which reference well known works of art. Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s portrait of Mademoiselle Caroline Rivière (1806), Jacques-Louis David’s famed painting The Death of Marat (1806), and Andrea Solari’s The Head of Saint John the Baptist (1507) are as famous in art circles as Lady Gaga is in pop culture.

But this juxtaposition has received a mixed response with Hyperallergic’s Joseph Nechvatal saying “His (Robert Wilson) uncompromising rigorous minimalism here has apparently, and most sadly, yielded to the BS/PR management typical of big money culture.” Whereas in response to Lady Gaga’s tweet “I know my artiness + musical goals may seem lofty, but there is a POP STAR IN THE LOUVRE, right next to the Mona Lisa” MTV’s Buzzworthy quipped “tell Mona we said: Hay, girl, hayyyyy.”

The Lady Gaga Portraits are currently on show until the 12th of April as part of Washington DC’s Hirshhorn Museum’s exhibition Days of Endless Time. And if you’re fleet of foot they can also be seen at Galerie Thomas Schulte booth at Art Basel Miami Beach from the 4th to the 7th of December.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

From Sunday Painter to Modern Master – The Art of Henri Rousseau

At the age of 49 Henri Rousseau turned his life on its head. He abandoned the relative financial security of a petty civil servant, a collector of tolls for the City of Paris to follow his dream. Rousseau had taken up painting on Sundays, his day off, some 14 years earlier and with his friend the green grocer, Claude Juniet, they would explore the Parisian suburbs.  

Now with a modest pension, which he augmented by giving drawing and music lessons and busking with his violin, he was able to spend the next 17 years perfecting his unique form of art.

That his work is unique is undisputed. With bright colors, attention to detail and a simplified storybook style Rousseau’s work almost defies categorization, naïve and /or primitive are usually trotted out to try and pigeon hole his art.  

The initial reception of his work when he exhibited at the Salon des Independants in 1886 was one of derision and ridicule. The French symbolist writer Alfred Jarry coined the mocking nickname Le Douanier, the customs officer; a reference to his day job and his status as an artist.

But Rousseau’s intriguing aesthetic, his expressive abilities and technical expertise have seen his work stand the test of time. His work has influenced many who followed him, the expressionists and the surrealists in particular.

Pablo Picasso, arguably the 20th Century’s greatest artist, was so enamored by Rousseau’s work that he honored him with tribute banquet and bought several of his canvases. Picasso later donated them to the Louvre fulfilling Rousseau’s rightly held ambition that his work should hang in France’s premier museum. 

Friday, November 28, 2014

The What and Where of Expressionism - An Exhibition

“Van Gogh struck modern art like lightening”

The story of Vincent Van Gogh is one of the best known in the annals of art, the tormented artist, struggling in obscurity only to die by his own hand at the age of 37. What is less well known is that a little over a decade after his death an exhibition of 71 of his post impressionist paintings was held in Paris, the undisputed capital of the art world at that time. And between 1901 and 1909 Germany hosted a further 33 exhibitions of his work.

Along with Gauguin, Cezanne and Henri Matisse he sowed the seeds of the 20th Century’s most enduring ism in art, Expressionism, a movement that paved the way for the perceived center of artistic endeavor and excellence to shift from Paris to New York.

Friedrich Nietzsche’s 1882 declaration “God is dead” coupled with an increase in scientific questioning and it was only a matter of time for the subjective in art to surface. Expressionism was the result which has survived to today where subjective motivation in art is a given.

With France and Germany being rivals since the 16th Century and having a common border that has changed almost as many times as the weather, a French lead demanded a German reply. Enter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Max Pechstein and perhaps most importantly Wassily Kandinsky with his evolving abstract sensibilities. They kept the color and the freedom and dumped what they called the stuffy, bourgeois properties of the rest.

The current exhibition From Van Gogh to Kandinsky: Impressionism to Expressionism, 1900 – 1914 at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts explores its birth. Formerly on show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from April to September with the somewhat more stuffy title of Expressionism in Germany and France: From Van Gogh to Kandinsky it is a scholarly show rather than the blockbuster the names would suggest.

For every name on show there is an also ran. However the frame for the exhibition is as the show’s curator, Timothy Benson, opined “What is expressionism and where did it come from?”

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Brian Rutenberg – A Colorful Poet

At least four times a year painter Brian Rutenberg leaves the bright lights of New York, his home for the last 20 odd years, for the landscapes of his youth in the South Carolina lowlands. It is amongst the tupelo swamps, the cypress forests, the coastal waterways and the lazy rivers that this abstract painter’s muse resides.

It is from the prose of the sketches Rutenberg makes on these sojourns that back in his studio the poetry of his paintings evolves. The monochrome lines are transformed into color and form creating intriguing metaphors; the ultimate destination of the painter’s craft.

With a BA from the College of Charleston, a MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York and visits to Italy, Canada and Ireland, Rutenberg is very much aware it’s not so much what you say, it has most likely been said before, but how you say it that matters. As a well turned poetical phrase can conjure a new meaning from the hackney so his juxtapositions of color and form provide a visually inspiring delight for the eye.

 His revelations come from the examination of the familiar, the backyard of his life, a culmination of heart and intellect in this journey through abstract motifs with expressionist overtones to define his relationship with the landscape he knows best.

Rutenberg’s current exhibition, Saltwater, is on show at New York’s Forum Gallery until the 6th of December. Future exhibitions are planned for San Francisco, Atlanta, Providence Rhode Island and Charlotte North Carolina.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Peter Doig – Open to All

“There are no foreign lands. It is the traveller only who is foreign.” 
 Robert Louis Stevenson 

For his first major exhibition in the land of his birth, Scotland, painter Peter Doig chose part of the Scottish writers quote above as its title “No Foreign lands.” Apart from having a back story that could have been a plot device for a Stevenson novel, Doig’s art expresses the interested detachment of the outsider.

Whilst still in nappies his family moved to the tropical island of Trinidad, they then relocated to Canada where he spent his teenage years. After a stint in the Canadian west Doig moved to London to study art and with his own family, in 2002, he returned to Trinidad. The quintessential nomad, Doig teaches regularly in Dusseldorf and had a studio in New York.

Living in Trinidad sees him erroneously compared to the French post-impressionist artist Paul Gauguin, but unlike Gauguin, Doig resisted going native. Whilst his 2006 painting Paragon uses a Gauguin style palette its subject matter of a game of cricket gives it a British overtone. Artists like Pierre Bonnard, Henri Matisse, Edvard Munch and Edward Hooper along with the contemporary ephemera of film, photography and magazines are what inform his work.

Growing up in the turmoil of a world changing from colonialism to global capitalism Doig has managed to stand outside the fray. But he does admit, tentatively, to feeling most at home in London and it is this sense of a calm detachment that makes his work so accessible.

For Doig’s paintings are non judgmental, they are open and welcoming to what the visitor may care to bring. Whatever that may be the narrative and the painterly quality of the work ensure that a broad church can be accommodated.

An exhibition of his paintings along with a mural are on display until the 22 of March 2015 at Foundation Bayeler in Basel Switzerland. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Arthur Boyd – The Bride Series

“I’d like to feel that through my work there is a possibility
of making a contribution to a social
progression or enlightenment.”
Arthur Boyd

For Australian painter Arthur Boyd the underside of the human condition was never far from his work. Form his World War II paintings using biblical subjects to express his condemnation of concentration camps to his anti Vietnam War Nebuchadnezzar series; Boyd championed the dispossessed and the outcast. This is especially true of his Love, Marriage, and Death of a Half-caste series commonly called The Bride Series.

A suite of 31 paintings inspired by the plight of Australia’s Aboriginal people he witnessed during his 1951 visit to Central Australia. At Alice Springs and the former mining community of Arltunga Boyd encountered the marginalized living conditions of Australia’s indigenous population. Prior to this, it is said, that he had only seen one aborigine; an itinerant gum leaf player on the streets of Melbourne.

The government policy towards aborigines at this time was one of assimilation during which the stolen generations, the forced removal of Aboriginal children from their families by the state, was common place. It would take the Australian government over half a century before it could bring itself to apologize for this mistreatment.

Back in 1951 this was not common knowledge. Boyd was shocked and depressed by the scenes that confronted him and felt compelled to show Australia the tragedy happening in its midst. But it took him seven years to achieve the emotional distance necessary to start to convert the drawings in his sketch books into the paintings of the series.

These Chargall like surreal works are not pretty pictures, they are magical and somewhat menacing depictions in which it seems the figures and the landscape are as one.  Of the 31 paintings in this elaborate morality tale there are 10 that tell the core story of the courtship, the marriage and the funeral. The Deputy Director of the National Gallery of Victoria, Ursula Hoff, described Boyd’s depictions as “a half-cast wooing a half-cast bride is haunted by the dream image of a white bride and by his fears of white society.” 

The core paintings from The Bride Series will be on show at the Heide Musuem of Modern Art from the 29th of November to the 15th of March next year. 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Christian Tagliavini - a workman of photography

The taking of the photograph for Christian Tagliavini is the final act in a laborious and time consuming process. The photograph is the documentation of his research, design, construction of sets and costumes and casting of amateur models for his historical set pieces.

"But I don't want to be labeled as someone who just makes recreations of historical portraits. I like to think I'm bringing imaginary eras to life," says Tagliavini. And indeed he does, in making his images he mixes artistic influences as he see fit.

In Ritratto di signora in verde from the 1503 series which are based on paintings by Agnolo di Cosimo, known as Il Bronzino, whose date of birth gave the series its name, Tagliavini stretched the model's neck, a la the 20th Century artist Amedeo Modigliani, in Photoshop. The result adds a slightly surreal aspect to the formal Mannerist style of the original.

Likewise the use of cardboard to create the costumes in the 2008 Dame di Cartone series contradicts any semblance of a three diemensional character. As the Telegraph Newspaper’s Robert Epstein says, “It's hard to be a rounded character, he seems to say, when we can literally see your edges.”

In his latest works, the Italian born Swiss resident has channeled the works of the 19th Century science fiction writer Jules Verne. Using three of his novels, Journey to the Center of the Earth, From the Earth to the Moon and Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea, as inspiration, Tagliavini has created two series of works, Voyages Extraordinaires and Voyages Extraordinaires Portraits. Eighteen months in the making, he imbues these new works with the aesthetic of 19th Century portrait photography whilst maintaining his own idiosyncratic values.

Yet to be officially exhibited a selection of these new works was on view at Paris Photo at Berlin’s Carmera Works booth. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Did He Jump Or Was He Pushed?

According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s security cameras at 17:59:30 on the 6th of December 2002 Tullio Lombardo’s Adam was standing in all his glory. At 17:59:38 he was on the floor broken into 28 large pieces and 100’s of fragments. Putting a 6’ 3”, 770 pound marble statue on a plywood plinth was just a matter of when.

Acquired in 1936, Tullio Lombardo’s Adam is/was a Renaissance masterpiece. Carved around 1490 art historians and curators have waxed lyrical about the work saying, “This sculpture is extraordinary not just because of its art historical importance as the first monumental nude of the Renaissance [that] followed closely the idealism of ancient Roman antiquities, but because it constitutes one of the most profound contemplations of divine and artistic creation, of human beauty and frailty, of temptation and sin and redemption ever realized.”

Because of its significance and that there were enough large sections among the ruins the unsung heroes of the museum, the conservators, were called in to work their magic. Stone is much harder to repair than canvas and for 12 years they labored.

The multidisciplinary team assembled included conservators, conservation scientists, and Curators who were joined and supported by materials scientists and engineers. They researched materials and techniques which resulted in the use of fiberglass pins rather than the tradition steel. They used laser imaging technology to create a virtual 3D model to test how best to put it all back together. They even broke up a copy of Michelangelo’s David in the same manner that Adam was broken to test out their ideas. 

Adam went back on display a couple of weeks ago along with details about the conservation. Whether he can gain his former stature is another question. For as the conservators conclude in their report “In the end, while our approach to the conservation treatment may have preserved the intent and impact of this seminal work of art, the fact remains that as a result of the accident the sculpture is not the same, and never can be; the damage incurred from the fall cannot be reversed, regardless of how securely repaired the structure or carefully integrated the surface. We only hope that the memory of the accident and the image of the sculpture in fragments will fade over time, allowing Adam to retain its status as a masterpiece of Renaissance art. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Paul Cézanne – An Online Smorgasbord

Paul Cézanne is one of if not the undisputed master of post-impressionist art. His ability to build form with color combined with his analytical depiction of nature credited him as the father of Cubism, Fauvism and several other art “isms” that have influenced successive avant-guard artists.

A work by Cézanne is a staple for any self respecting museum and with them loaning works to each other exhibitions happen on a regular basis. Currently there are two major exhibitions of his work; The Art Gallery of Hamilton is showing The World Is An Apple: The Still Lifes of Paul Cézanne until the 8th of February and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has Madam Cezanne on show through to the 15th of March next year.

Added to this is The Paintings of Paul Cézanne: An Online Catalogue Raisonné. This recently released website has nearly a 1000 of the "Master of Aix" paintings on display. From the thumbnails, at 60 to the page, to full screen renditions with mouse over’s to see the brush work is just three clicks away. The site is also a scholarly reference with provenance, exhibition history and literary mentions for each work included.

Whilst revelation of name and email address is necessary to gain access, in today’s climate of data collection, it is a small price to pay for such a cornucopia of Cézanne’s art.

Georgia O’Keeffee – An Update

A week ago in Happy Birthday Georgia O’Keeffe – 127 Candles Today we claimed that in the 1920’s  & 30's O'Keeffe was the most “highly paid woman artist in the world.” Well that seems to be once again the case.

Two days ago she regained that position when her 1932 painting Jimson Weed/White Flower No 1 sold for $44.4 million at Sotheby’s American Paintings Auction. What is interesting about the sale is not so much the price but the seller.

It was sold by The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum which was founded to “To inspire all current and future generations, the Museum preserves, presents, and advances the artistic legacy of Georgia O’Keeffe and Modernism through innovative public engagement, education, and research.” 

Selling off the family silver seems to be a strange way to go about it.

Friday, November 21, 2014

A Couple Of Photographers – Lillian Bassman & Paul Himmel

The art world is as fickle as those who inhabit it as the careers of Lillian Bassman and Paul Himmel attest. During the 1950’s and 60’s both had stellar careers in New York’s fashion industry. Bassman was an art director and photographer for Harper’s Bazaar and Junior Bazaar, Himmel was a photographer for Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.  

As the 60’s morphed into the 70’s they both became disillusioned with the world of fashion and dropped out of sight. For Bassman it was the shift in emphasis from the clothes to the model and a harder edge reality that that imposed. Her sense of style and her technical expertise in the darkroom were no longer required. Himmel  was “interested in beauty not in fashion” and the disinterest in his experimental ballet photography and his abstracted nudes disillusioned him so much that gave up photographer altogether and turned his hand to psychotherapy.

When the couple, they had been living together since they were 15 and 18 respectively, were in their 70’s a chance discovery saw their star began to shine once again. Whilst Bassman had destroyed a large amount of work there were some garbage bags of their photographs stashed away. Long time admirer of Bassman’s work, Martin Harrison, a fashion curator and historian, convinced her to relook at her work whilst organizing a show of Himmel's documentary photography.

Intrigued, Bassman reworked her images in the digital darkroom making them into images she liked rather than those her editors chose. In the process she gained a new generation of fans and a full blown revival of her career.

The latest of which is a posthumous joint exhibition with her husband, “Lillian Bassman & Paul Himmel; Two Lives for Photography,” at the Kunst Haus Wien as part of the sixth edition of Eyes On - Month of Photography Vienna.

About their photography Bassman has said "Paul is, I feel, a better photographer. His work is virile, it's more direct and he deals with world as it actually is. Photographically speaking, we're probably as close as you could come to opposites. I'm completely tied up with softness, fragility and the personal problems of a feminine world."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Some Great Art – Shame About The Website

With no written language Aboriginal art forms a major part of the cultural heritage that defines what it is to be an Australian aborigine. Based on a history known as The Dreaming this art tells stories handed down from generation to generation for over 50,000 years.

Just 43 years ago the fragile bark paintings and the ephemeral sand drawings were brought in the 20th Century to become one of its most exciting contemporary art forms. Sydney teacher Geoffrey Bardon was working in the Australian outback when he introduced modern art materials to the Papunya men to assist in their story telling.

Since then Australian Aboriginal Art has been exhibited worldwide and absorbed into museum collections both large and small. Likewise the artists have embraced the new medium expanding their palettes from earth colors to the full gamut of colors available in the acrylic spectrum. Like in the image above by  Lulu Trancollino which for her and her kin is a map of three flood water marked rock holes  at Bedford Downs Station, for non Aborigines is a striking abstract with a predominately blue palette.

A couple of days ago The Art Gallery of Western Australia launched a new stand alone website to record and share the visual art of Aboriginal artists from Western Australia’s Kimberley region. Known for its mining and pastoral industries, the Kimberly is home to some of Australia’s finest rock art and has one of the most vibrant community’s of contemporary artists working today.

With 11 Art Centers and over 100 artists listed should be a first stop for those with an interest in the art from the region. But herein lies the problem, the art is buried deep within the bowels of the website. The initial impetus for building the site and the major attraction for visitors is almost an afterthought.

This link will take you to the art, but buyers beware. The site loads 12 images of reasonable size thumbnails initially. Each click of the “Load More” button adds another twelve until you are many pages deep into the site. Should you choose to investigate a thumbnail for more information and then return to the list you will be sent back to the first page to start again.

It is a navigation system designed to discourage exploration. This is a shame for there are some exquisite works of art to be found buried in this treasure trove. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

From Paint to Video – The Art of Zhang Xiaotao

With his work described as “the fables of the social changes and future prospects” Chinese artist Zhang Xiaotao is a painter who has embraced the digital art of video animation. Both examples of his work were on show at the Chinese Pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale.

His love of comics as a child coupled with the study of the Buddhist and Taoist influenced martial arts and a near death experience by drowning are personal influences that color his art. Living through the cultural transition from the socialist collective ideals of the Cultural Revolution to the individualistic concerns of a market economy likewise informs his art.

Zhang’s large paints from the early years of this century, for which he is arguable best known, utilize both Western & Chinese painting traditions to reflect on his immediate surroundings. “China is huge and chaotic, and it makes you feel tiny and insignificant… I want to express human desires in a materialistic society, people’s instinctive reactions, both physiological and psychological, to living in this era,” he says in a 2002 Artist’s Statement.

But these works are also informed with Zhang’s childhood memories with their often watery connotations and meditations about the spiritual. “These are magnified fragments of our absurd and indulgent materialistic life, and they are also the instinctual misgivings and responses towards this society of material desire,” he says.

In 2010 Zhang co-founded the Sichuan Fine Arts Academy’s New Media Studies Department where he works as a professor. In his private practice as an artist he now works with new media art production examining the paradox between social change and personal spiritual history striving to transmit the personal experience into a public one.

Three of Zhang’s full-length video animation works along with photo stills from the works will be on show at Pékin Fine Arts until the 5th of January. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

At Slot You Can View Art 24/7

“Some people tend rose gardens in front of their house;

 we give art to the neighborhood.” 
Tony Twigg

There is a shop window on the city side of one of Sydney Australia’s busiest traffic intersections that displays curated exhibitions twenty four seven. There is no inside behind this façade; the window is the gallery.

This is Slot – a gift by the founder’s, artist Tony Twigg and writer/curator Gina Fairley, to their neighbors and others who pass by 38 Botany Road.  Sandwiched between a Thai restaurant and a coin operated laundry, Slot has been continuously being presenting the work of Australian and South East Asian artists for 11 years.

A privately funded, independent space, it’s not for rent nor is it a commercial gallery or a government funded venue. According to Philippine artist Mai Nguyen-Long who has exhibited there several times Slot “is a gesture of generosity rather than one that sits within the politics of the art world.”

Although Fairley and Twigg shoulder the majority of the curatorial burden they are open to other visions. In 2012 Chloé Wolifson joined them for six months as a guest curator. During that time she curated six exhibitions. “I invited artists to make new work that considered the relationships between people and their urban environment,” she said.

Tony Twigg expanded saying ‘Slot's exhibitions have ranged from site-specific installations to conventional gallery-style exhibits. It's an obvious but nonetheless important point that with a window gallery the art cognoscenti are abandoned in favor of what Henry Lawson described as ‘the faces in the street’.

As Merilyn Fairskye, the Associate Professor of Media Arts / Photomedia at the Sydney College of the Arts, says ‘what I think is interesting about Slot is that it’s so completely out of context – just look at the neighborhood. It’s unlike small window spaces in other places where there is a context for looking at art and related activities. It is very matter-of-fact; it’s no big deal – you just go past and there it is and it changes every few weeks.’

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Dance – Matisse & Hockney

Henri Matisse’s The Dance, of which there are three versions, are all considered 20th Century masterpieces.  The British artist David Hockney has paid tribute to two of the three Matisse works with a series of paintings depicting a similar motif.

Matisse’s 1909 version is loosely sketched with pale colors and minimal detail and is considered a preparatory sketch for the 1910 work. It is a joyful work that encourages the spectator to come join the dance. The left hand side of this work also forms the background for Matisse’s 1912 painting Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance" I.

The 1910 version with its classic Fauvist color palette reflects Matisse’s fascination with primitive art; it has been described as a fleeting victory of life over death. It is often associated with Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring, an orchestral work commissioned for Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

Interestingly the 1909 version of The Dance and Nasturtiums with the Painting "Dance" I are part of the New York’s Museum of Modern Art and The Metropolitan Museum of Art respectively. The 1910 version The Dance lives at St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.

The 1932 version of The Dance shows that Matisse had moved on. Dance II is a large triptych mural commissioned by Albert C. Barnes for his Philadelphia Barnes Foundation. Aspects such as flatness, simplicity and color had become the artist’s preoccupations over the intervening years. In the making of Dance II Matisse experimented with cut-outs which were to become a major fascination for the rest of his career.

David Hockney’s Dance series return to the earlier Matisse works for their inspiration. Hockney employed professional dancers as his models whose various attitudes he captured for his five figures. His dancers form a closed loop that excludes the spectator and the more detailed and busier backgrounds seem to allude to his conflict about whether to make the UK or the USA his home.

Hockney’s works are on show until the 10th of January at Pace’s 508 West 25th Street gallery in New York. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Will Selfies of the future be sculptural?

That staple of fun fairs and railway stations the photo booth which only recently was made redundant by the phone camera is set to make a comeback. In its new configuration it will create a digital file suitable for 3D printing.

Luxembourg’s Artec Group rolled out its first Sharpify Booth in June at a supermarket in Trafford Park, Manchester, England. In October Artec demonstrated the technology in the US at the “Inside 3D Printing" conference in Santa Clara, Calif.

A 12 second full body rotating scan in the booth can produce a file suitable for a 6 to 9 inch sculpture. If Artec are chosen to print the figurine the scan is free and a full colour self replica is estimated to cost between $99 and $199 depending on size. Should the customer have their own 3D printer, which is not unlikely now that home 3D printers cost less than $1000, the scan will cost $20.

Artec also has a software package called Sharpify Pro that allows owners of Xbox Kinect game boxes to scan themselves at home which can be printed on their own 3D printer.

In their marketing material Artec claim “Shapies are perfect for capturing life's milestones in 3D figurine form like birthdays, graduations, a wedding, pregnancy, or even this year's awesome Halloween costume."

As the technology advances this may well become the method of choice for professional sculptors. In July the Indiana based 3D printer manufacturer, SeeMeCNC, claim to have built the world’s largest 3D printer capable of printing objects up 3 meters (10 feet) high. 

But for the uber cool the latest desk/mantelpiece ornament may come from New Zealand’s Brainform who are offering to print a model of a customer’s brain from a supplied MRI scan. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Georgia O’Keeffe – 127 Candles Today

Growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin, Georgia O’Keeffe developed a love of solitude. Her discovery of the American south west in general and the New Mexico desert in particular in her 20’s combined  to make these traits the hallmark of this icon of American art.

At the time when her work was first being shown in New York, O’Keeffe was living in the small west Texas town of Canyon. About which she wrote to her friend and later biographer Anita Pollitzer I am loving the plains more than ever it seems—and the SKY—Anita, you’ve never seen SKY—it is wonderful.”

She moved to New York at the insistence of photographer and modern art impresario Alfred Stieglitz who became her lover, husband and a lifelong promoter of her work. Stieglitz set up in a studio where she painted her flower masterpieces and her New York series.  About the New York series O’Keeffe said "One can't paint New York as it is, but rather as it is felt."

Gail Levin, the Distinguished Professor of Art History at the City University of New York, wrote about O’Keeffe’s New York paintings “Her skyscraper paintings, with their sense of crowding, airlessness and oppression, suggest the displaced nature-lover who grew up in the mid-western countryside. O'Keeffe is as always fascinated by the moon and the sun, as befits a girl who grew up under the broad skies of the Wisconsin prairie.”

After a decade in New York, O’Keeffe started visiting New Mexico on an annual basis. She had become the most famous and highly paid woman artist in the world when Stieglitz abandoned her for another protégé, 18 years her junior. This combined with her failure to complete a Radio Music Hall mural caused a nervous breakdown.  

O’Keeffe recuperated in New Mexico seeking solace in the solitude of the desert and her art. This became permanent in 1940 when she purchased the Ghost Ranch house at Rancho de los Burros, the first of her two New Mexico properties.

Except for a three year period after her husband’s death in 1946, to sort out his estate, O’Keeffe shuffled between her houses painting the “O’Keeffe Country” until her own death in 1986. 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Gordon Parks a Renaissance Man

In 2005, the year before his death, Gordon Parks published his ninth book of poetry, Eyes with Winged Thoughts: Poems and Photographs. For the famed photographer it joined his other literary works that included novels, autobiographies, and non-fiction works about photography and film making. His best known book is the semi-autobiographical, The Learning Tree which has been favorably compared to Harper Lee’s classic To Kill a Mocking Bird.

Six years after its publication The Learning Tree was released as Hollywood movie for which Park not only wrote the screenplay and the musical score but also directed.  This saw him become first African American to direct a major studio film. Two years later the release of the hit movie, Shaft confirmed Park’s talent as a director.

Apart from his film scores Parks composed classical, blues, and popular music and in 1981 had an exhibition of abstract oil paintings. But his lasting legacy will be his photography.

From his first camera purchased at a Seattle pawn shop in 1938, the self taught photographer went on to become one of Time/Life Magazine’s celebrated staff photographers. His reputation as a humanitarian photojournalist came from his racism, poverty and black urban life subject matter; an artist with an eye for elegance came from his Paris fashion work and his celebrity and political portraiture.

Forced to abandon his formal education at 14, Parks went on to receive 40 honorary doctorates from colleges and universities in the United States and England. One of which he dedicated to a former high school teacher who had advised him and his fellow students not to waste their parents' money on college because they would end up as porters or maids anyway.

Varginia’s Farlin Museum is currently showing, until 21st of December, Gordon Parks: The Making of an Argument, which was Parks' first major photo-essay for Life magazine. On the 29 of November Atlanta’s High Museum of art will present Gordon Parks: Segregation Story which will remain on show until the middle of next year.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Crowdfunding Is About More Than Just Money

Art Basel which the New York Times described as “the world's biggest and best 20th-century art fair” has teamed up with the crowdfunding website Kickstarter to help fund non-profit arts projects. While the non-profits organize the project Art Basel’s assistance will be in the exposure of the project to their expansive network of supporters along with the kudos of the association.
But crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter, Indigogo and Sponsume to mention just three of the plethora of these sites on the web are not just for the big hitters. They are available for all levels of projects including the modest. At Sponsume the minimum campaign target is just $300.

It’s not a new idea, the Catholic Church, Red Cross, Oxfam, name your favourite charity, have been doing it for years. How it differs is that the money given is going to an identified project rather than an organization’s coffers. And in the majority of cases there is a tangible reward as well as the warm and fuzzy feeling for the generosity.

For project initiators, apart from the money, there is, perhaps more importantly, feedback from their community about the perceived value of the project. If friends and relatives, the most likely donors, are unimpressed perhaps a re-think of the project is called for.

As with any fund raising activity a lot of hard work and strategic thinking is required, perhaps even more than that required for the project.  

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Has The First Dog on the Moon slipped his leash?

"wise enough to play the fool"
William Shakespeare
Twelfth Night

The fool of the middle ages was a respected member of their community often finding employment with the nobility as a Jester; a teller of truths.  Today the Editorial (Political) cartoonist has taken the place of the Jester, although still using hyperbole and satire to draw attention to corruption and other social ills.

The 17th Century diarist Samuel Pepys wrote about England’s King Charles II’s favourite Thomas Killigrew, calling him The King's fool and jester, with the power to mock and revile even the most prominent without penalty". Additionally, Adrienne C, Lamb writing in her 1998 master’s thesis, Fair Game: Canadian Editorial Cartooning, wrote “In the same fashion, cartoonists replicate the role of the fool at times being both controversial and cruel. Political cartoons attempt to tear the deceitful mask from public figures.”

The printing press caused the medium to change from the performing arts of storytelling, song and acrobatics to the visual art of drawing along with the written word. It also expanded the audience from the nobleman’s household to the region. The internet has expanded this audience to one that can reach the world.

Political cartoonist The First Dog on the Moon, aka Andrew Marlton, has the talent to make the most of this situation. Discovered by his work was locked behind a pay wall. The casual reader was forced to wait weeks to see work. His migration in March this year to the Guardian Newspaper, as their Australian edition’s resident cartoonist, has seen his work come out into the open.

The prospect of appearing in their US and UK editions has seen the Walkley award-winning Cartoonist broaden his horizons. Whilst the Australian political scene has more than enough fodder for his work global issues are starting to gain traction.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Faustian Bargain is Headed Your Way

To enter a Faustian bargain is to surrender your moral integrity for power, success and worldly pleasures. It is a concept that has been around since the 15th Century and is best known through the plays of Christopher Marlow (The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus, 1604) and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Faust, 1832). In both, the scholar, Dr Faust, sells his soul to the devil in the form of Mephistopheles.

It is a theme that has been explored not only in theater, but in music, film, poetry, art and literature over the ages. And now in the 21st Century it has been revived once again as an interactive game with online social media elements.

The Korean gaming company Nolgong in association with Goethe Institute in Korea has created Being Faust – Enter Mephisto. Armed with their smart phones and an up to date facebook account gamers meet at a central location for an hour long experience of the taboo side of life. Assuming the role of a young Faust they enter the tempting digital world of Mephisto & Co., where values and ideals are up for sale.

Being Faust – Enter Mephisto premiered at the Seoul Metropolitan Library on the first of September. From the 11th to the 13th of September six games were played at Johannesburg’s A Maze Festival. On the 29th of November two games are scheduled to be played at Hong Kong’s Fringe Club.

With 159 Goethe Institutes around the world and plans underway for European and Asian tours next year, Being Faust – Enter Mephisto will be coming to a venue near you.