Archive for the ‘Art/lit/music/film’ Category

Visual burlesque

August 29, 2014

From Xopher Walker recently, this image from the American Postcard Co. in 1995; design by George Costaldo, photography by Michael Huhn. One of a set of political leather images — involving Hillary alone, Bill alone, Hillary and Bill, and (below) Bill and Al — sometimes described as parodies, but to my mind better characterized as (visual) burlesques.


Hybrid art

August 28, 2014

From the MUU Galleria in Helsinki, Finland, this recent sculpture “My Little Tom of Finland” by Mari Kasurinen:

The figure is a hybrid of two (very oddly assorted) creations from popular culture: the cute My Little Pony toys (favored by young girls) and the hypersexual characters from the graphic artist Tom of Finland  (favored by gay men). It’s one in a large series of My Little X sculptures by Kasurinen, playfully (and critically) combining the little ponies with characters from popular culture or famous iconic people (“superstars”, as Kasurinen puts it, “presented to us as examples, ideals, even as authorities”).


Life among the artists

August 15, 2014

(Mostly for the silliness. Not much language-related here.)

Today’s Zippy:

First, the transformation into Rembrandt (admittedly, in a muumuu), then the appearance of the writer and art collector Gertrude Stein (also in a muumuu).


Tumble Inn, Stan

August 14, 2014

Today’s Zippy:


There’s the diner, and there’s the address term Stan.


Gerhard Marcks

August 3, 2014

(Mostly about art. Also: penis alert (below the fold)!)

Recently in my mail, a postcard from Christopher Walker showing the bronze sculpture Freunde (Friends) by Gerhard Marcks, from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston:


Peter Mendelsund

July 21, 2014

From the August 2014 issue of Details magazine, the piece “The Cover Artist” by Timothy Hodler:

You may not know his name, but chances are you already own some of Peter Mendelsund’s work. The 46-year-old designer of iconic book jackets for top-shelf authors both living (Martin Amis) and dead (James Joyce) is celebrated in this month’s Cover (powerHouse, $60; out August 5), a retrospective of his greatest hits. He’s also publishing his first book, What We See When We Read (Vintage, $17; out August 5), a philosophical exploration of the literary imagination. Here, he shares the stories behind some of his standouts.

An example of Mendelsund’s work, the cover for The Flame Alphabet by Ben Marcus:

Despite the title of the Details piece, the creators of book covers are not referred to as artists, at least in art circles, where they are designers or illustrators. They provide artwork (art for short) — designs or illustrations — for commercial purposes and so they are normally outside the world of art criticism and art exhibits (“Art art”, you might say), except on special occasions, when applied (as opposed to fine) art, craftwork, folk art, street art, outsider art, etc. are granted attention in shows, catalogs, and the like.


Things we doubt Louis XIV envisioned

July 17, 2014

In the June/July 2014 Details, pp. 57-8, a piece by Laurence Lowe on the Jeff Koons retrospective now showing at the Whitney Museum in New York, treating four of his most iconic works: New Hoover Celebrity III’s (1980); Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988); Made in Heaven (1989); and Puppy (1992).

On the last, Koons says:

I created it for a site-specific exhibition in Bad Arolsen, Germany. There was a huge schloss in the center of town. I envisioned Louis XIV visiting it and thought, ‘If Louis lived there, what would he want to see?’ Maybe he’d wake up in the morning and want to see a sculpture, about 40 feet tall, all made of live flowers, in the shape of a dog. It was that intuitive.


(There are other installations in other places.)


But is it art? Abstraction

June 29, 2014

In earlier postings on the “But is it art?” topic I looked at conceptual art, broadly conceived: the spawn of Marcel Duchamp, you might say. There’s another strain of art that has famously given rise to the query: abstract art.

An anecdote, from years ago at a reception for the opening of an exhibition of abstract art at the Columbus Museum of Art. I was contemplating a painting by Morris Louis (one of his Stripes series; see below) when another gallery-goer, looking disapprovingly at the offerings, remarked to me, “The rot began with the Impressionists”, conveying (I suppose) that when the Impressionists moved away from strictly representational art, the long slide began that eventually produced Kandinsky, Mondrian, Pollack, and all the rest, including Louis.

I don’t know why people like this guy go to exhibitions like the one we were at, but I slid away from him and went on to a CMA poster sale, at which I bought a reproduction of a (large) Louis Stripes piece.

Notes on Louis and then very briefly on abstract art.


But is it art? At MoMA

June 28, 2014

One more shot at this topic, after the High Line and the Whitney: a piece in the July/August 2014 Atlantic: “The Most Modern Curator: Why Paola Antonelli put Pac-Man, a mine detonator, and a vial of sweat in the Museum of Modern Art” by Megan Garber:

On the third floor of the Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, if you go to the bank of windows overlooking 54th Street and then turn right, you will find some synthetic sweat. The liquid, stored in a short glass vial, mimics the perspiration of cage fighters—collected just after a bout and chemically analyzed using a technique known as gas chromatography. It is slightly viscous. It is slightly yellow. It is slightly disgusting.

Which is the point. The vial is part of Design and Violence, an installation co-produced by Jamer Hunt and Paola Antonelli, one of MoMA’s most prominent, and provocative, curators. As a physical representation of some of humanity’s most enduring features — sex, aggression, smelliness — the bottle’s manufactured contents are both entirely and not at all natural. “We wanted objects that have an ambiguous relationship with violence,” Antonelli says, by way of explaining the installation’s selections, each of which — a stiletto heel, a self-guided bullet, a chalk outline of a drone — is meant to emphasize design’s power not just to solve problems but also to create them.


But is it art? More Jeff Koons

June 28, 2014

Last time around, a Zippy the Pinhead led to a Jeff Koons balloon dog and Popeye. Now, at the Whitney, a substantial show on Koons. From the NYT yesterday, this piece by Roberta Smith: “Shapes of an Extroverted Life: ‘Jeff Koons: A Retrospective’ Opens at the Whitney”:

There are so many strange, disconcerting aspects to Jeff Koons, his art and his career that it is hard to quite know how to approach his first New York retrospective, the Whitney Museum of American Art’s largest survey devoted to a single artist. [Open through October 19th; organized by Scott Rothkopf, the Whitney’s associate director of programs]

… there are all the big, often shiny sculptures, framed posters and glossy paintings, all tending toward an almost brain-freezing hyper-realism that isolates and fastidiously transforms objects from all corners of contemporary life: household appliances, gift store tchotchkes, advertising posters, children’s toys.

… The erotic and, to some extent, the scatological are never far beneath the surface in Mr. Koons’s art. Exhibit A is “Play-Doh,” [dated 1994-2014] a new, almost certain masterpiece whose sculptural enlargement of a rainbow pile of radiant chunks captures exactly the matte textures of the real thing, but also evokes paint, dessert and psychedelic poop.




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