Why You May Never See This Classic Movie Poster Again | Erik Sharkey

Why You May Never See This Classic Movie Poster Again | Erik Sharkey.

Oh yes! This is so true! There are too few artists like Drew Struzan working in advertising. But of course the speed and quality of digital art being what it is, marketing agencies don’t want to sacrifice the fast results of digital art for hands on methods. But no matter how good computer art is, there will always be the missing touch of the human element in those prints. I think Guillermo Del Toro described it best when he said, ” Drew created a love affair that will last a lifetime. This other stuff is a one night stand.”

Michelle Stuart

Niagara Gorge Path Relocated 1975

Michelle Stuart is a multimedia artist working since the mid-60’s, working in every medium from drawing, sculpture, photography, video, installation, to site-specific earthworks. Her diverse body of work is inspired by her lifelong interest in the natural world and the cosmos and desire to connect to it. She has engendered a subtle and responsive dialogue with the natural world, distinct from the epic gestures of contemporaneous Land Art. Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in her work, and Anna Lovatt, the 35-year-old British art historian and lecturer in Modern and Contemporary art history at the University of Manchester, UK, has organized a show at the  Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, N.Y highlighting six decades of Stuart’s amazingly diverse body of work. The show titled “Michelle Stuart: Drawn From Nature,” will last through October 27, and features Stuart’s drawings and land art projects made between 1968- 2011, but the exhibition does include more than 50 of her sculptural assemblages, photographs and works on paper.

Ms. Stuart, who is now 80, has immersed herself in the culture, history and archaeology of different regions, transforming six decades of travel into a lifetime of art. She is inspired by archeology, history, earth and the cosmos.  The renowned piece  “Niagara Gorge Path Relocated,” from 1975 illustrates the artist’s take on the history of archeology. The work was an immersive project, the 460-foot-long scroll was perforated by smashing rocks into the paper and then unfurled down an escarpment at a spot where Niagara Falls was situated 12,000 years ago. The piece traces history and links the past with the present, and through contemplation retrospectively connects the viewer to a time long gone. Two more highlights from the show are 12-foot-long paper scrolls from in 1973 in upstate New York, their surfaces covered with intricate marks made by placing the muslin-backed paper on the ground and rubbing pencil or graphite across it.

The curator Cornelia Butler, who has included her work in drawing surveys at the MOMA and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, said that Ms. Stuart was one of “maybe only a handful of artists of her generation who made a significant contribution during those early moments of land art” around 1970, when mostly male artists like Michael Heizer and Robert Smithson began sculpturing lakes and canyons. Ms. Butler, now chief curator at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, points out that not only did Ms. Stuart “incorporate the earth into her drawings,” but she also “brought drawing into the landscape,” as with the Niagara Gorge project.

Personally, I am always struck with Stuart’s monumental, labor-intensive scrolls, a series begun in 1970, when she reinvented Surrealist frontage by working with, and against, the earth. THere have been lots of Landscape Artists, and a lot of female landscape artsits put themselves into the work, such as Marybeth Edelson with her “Goddess” photos and Ana Mendieta in series of “Siluettas.” (All from the 60’s-70’s) These kinds of explorations of earth and nature, that subject a woman’s body, are too often unfairly dismissed as “goddess” worship art and primitivism and tossed aside as feminist. unlike their male contemporaries, such as Clemment Greenberg and Carl Andre, are considered to be minimalist and innovative protest against the perceived artificiality, plastic aesthetics and ruthless commercialization of art.Stuart’s photographs, sculptures, assemblages,and scrolls, however, are devoid of a human figure and so escape the feminist stereotype. For some reason her style reminds me greatly of Agnes Martin despite how massive and grand they can be. A lot them are still very thoughtful and I think the quality of her works that appeals to me most is how personal they are despite how far back towards the past, or high towards the stars they reach.

Nazca Lines Star Chart. Nazca Lines Southern Hemisphere Constellation Chart Correlation 1981-82


Baltic Book, 1985


“Nazca Lines Star Chart”

Justification For Playing with Your Food

London-based photographer Carl Warner is definitely up to something different. These photographs selected from his work Foodscapes are assemled entirely out of food! That’s right – all of the pictures below are actually created out of fresh food. Warner uses a wide variety of different ingredients, such as deli meats, fresh fish, fruit, vegetables, candy, and bread, to build incredibly detailed worlds right out of reality of dreams. Warner’s food art includes sailing ships on sunny days or battling stormy seas, the Great Wall of China, forests and mountains, all the while demonstrating his amazing eye for even the smallest details.

Warner has been working in advertising and shooting still-lifes for over 25 years, and has been developing Foodscapes for the past 10 years. His expertise for shooting table-top pictures and usage of artificial light has undoubtedly aided in making the food pictures look so realistic. He so meticulous that on first glance you can’t tell that the miniature food models aren’t actually landscape photographs.

The Foodscapes received international recognition back in 2008, and Carl has been coming up with new pieces ever since. Besides food, this artist also uses other medium to imitate landscapes. His sensual Bodyscapes project featured intricately tangled human bodies, which make you tilt your head a little with each picture.  Go here to view his extensive portfolio at his website: http://www.carlwarner.com

Richter and Calder: The Art of Abstraction and Motion

Great article about Richter and Calder subjecting motion to make art.

Unframed The LACMA Blog

In the mid-1940s, the painter and filmmaker Hans Richter and sculptor Alexander Calder joined forces on a remarkable film, Dreams That Money Can Buy, which featured Calder’s famous Cirque Calder, a mirthful work of pure fantasy made up of delicate wire-frame miniature figures set into motion by Calder himself. This film, on view in the exhibitionHans Richter: Encounters, shows how fantasy and motion were two characteristics deeply shared by both artists. In his book, Encounters, Richter said of Calder: “The least he requires of sculptures is that they should move. And he has not been disappointed, nor have we. The earth, too, was not allowed to move until Copernicus and Galileo started it moving. . . . The twentieth century does not stand still, ‘it moves.’ ”

Calder and Richter also shared a deep interest in abstraction, as is seen in both Hans Richter: Encounters

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Georges Braque

Ok so everybody knows Picasso. Somehow history has made something of a “god” out Picasso, not that he wasn’t an innovative pioneer of the modern art movement or anything, but was he really all that better than his contemporaries? I suggest that Picasso was no better or worse an artist than his good friend Georges Braque, whose work I just so happen to prefer.

Now I know you are probably wondering who George Braque is, and if you think you know him, than you only know the part of his collective works that are relevant to Picasso.  But Braque was just as radical  to the early 1900’s art scene as Picasso, and he shook the traditional methods of art creation just as fiercely.  Most biographies on Braque begin with his friendship to Picasso and how together their collaborative efforts produced Cubism, one of the most shocking and polarizing styles to ever be invented.  But Braque was an established painter in his own right before he ever met Picasso. Braque began as a house painter and decorator in his hometown in Le Havre. During the evenings he studied painting as the École des Beaux-Arts from about 1897 to 1899. In Paris, he apprenticed with a decorator and was awarded his certificate in 1902.  But the next year he met Marie Laurencin and Francis Picabia (Impressionists) attending the Académie Humbert, also in Paris, and began to experiment with Impressionism. As such, Braque’s earliest paintings are soft and textural studies of light and shape and these are elements that would always be singular to his paintings even after he and Picasso later try to paint so similarly that no one could tell who painted which canvas.

In 1905 the Fauves (Beast) debuted their work in Paris. When Braque saw the show he began to experiment with this new style that used brilliant colors to represent emotional response. Braque worked closely with Raoul Dufy and Othon Friesz, who shared Braque’s hometown of Le Havre, to develop a somewhat more subdued Fauvist style more in touch with his Impressionist roots. In May 1907, Braque successfully exhibited works of the Fauve style at the Salon des Indépendants; a very controversial series of art shows that scoffed at the “stuffy” academia conventions used to judge art choosing the device “No jury nor awards” (Sans jury ni récompense). The same year, Braque’s style began a slow evolution as he became influenced by Paul Cézanne, who had died the year before. No doubt Braque saw  Cezanne’s work when they were exhibited in Paris for the first time in a large-scale, museum-like retrospective in September 1907 at the Salon d’Automne. This exhibit would greatly affect the avant-garde artists of Paris, foreshadowing  the advent of Cubism.

“House at l’estaque,” Georges Braque, 1908

“La guitare,” Georges Braque, 1909

In 1908-09, still before Braque was working with Picasso, the painter began to experiment with geometry and simultaneous perspective, the curious method of painting subjects in at least two angles in a physically impossible manner. He conducted an intense study of the effects of light and perspective and the technical means that painters use to represent these effects. His experiments were a challenge to the most standard of artistic conventions: perspective. For example the painting Houses at l’Estaque, Braque reduced an architectural structure to a geometric form approximating a cube, yet rendered its shading so that it looked both flat and three-dimensional by fragmenting the image. He was well in to his study when, finally, in 1909 Braque and Picasso meet and begin to work collaboratively. Both artist were interested in Cézanne, and perspective, and as I mentioned earlier, the two went beyond merely working together bouncing ideas off the other; they lived together in a studio and endeavored to paint in a style so radical and devoid of human signature, that no one could distinguish their work. Art Historian Ernst Gombrich described their Cubism as “the most radical attempt to stamp out ambiguity and to enforce one reading of the picture— that of a man-made construction, a colored canvas.” And I think this quote from Braque is also a good one to describe his working relationship with Picasso: ” The things that Picasso and I said to one another during those years will never be said again, and even if they were, no one would understand them anymore. It was like being roped together on a mountain.”

“Man with a Guitar” Georges Braque, 1911-13

Nature morte (Fruit Dish, Ace of Clubs), Georges Braque, 1913

But the collaboration did not diminish Braque’s unique contributions to Cubism, and as history reminds us certainly did not tarnish Picasso’s popularity. Though there are similarities in their paintings and other works, there are differences also. A comparison of a series of works over the years the artists worked together and after reveals that the effect of Braque’s encounter with Picasso accelerated and intensified his exploration of Cézanne’s ideas, rather than to divert his thinking in any essential way. Braque’s main subjects are still-lives in which he abstracts the perspective and color of musical instruments, stairs, fruit, architecture, and other traditional subjects. In these paintings Braque is still clinging to Impressionist and Fauvist style of light and shape, color and form, thought and emotion. Picasso, who was greatly inspired by Gauguin, African Masks and Iberian sculpture, used the Cubism method to abstract people, movement and action. A great way to distinguish the two artists is to consider that Picasso celebrates animation, while Braque celebrates contemplation.

So yes, in the early 20th century, Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso invented Cubism and shook the foundations of Western art. But Braque’s story did not begin with Picasso, nor does it end with him.  In 1914 Braque enlisted with the French Army to fight in WWI, ending his partnership with Picasso and his painting endeavors for a time. In May 1915, Braque received a severe head injury in battle at Carency and suffered temporary blindness, requiring a long period of recuperation. In 1916 Braque resumed painting, alone and he began to moderate the harsh abstraction of Cubism. He developed a more personal style characterized by brilliant color, textured surfaces, and—after his relocation to the Normandy seacoast—the reappearance of the human figure. But, he painted many still-life subjects during this time, maintaining his emphasis on structure. He is quoted saying that he is drawn to sell-lifes “because in the still-life you havea tactile, I might almost say a manual space… This answered to the hankering I have always had to touch things and not merely see them… In tactile space you measure the distance separating you from the object, whereas in visual space you measure the distance separating things from each other. This is what led me, long ago, from landscape to still-life.” His devotion to still-life subjects gave an introvered meditation feel to his works after the war that was criticsed sometimes for not being political enough. In the 1930s the rise of fascism brought new urgency to questions of aesthetics and politics, and art critics want to art that spoke to reactions from the war. Picasso’s Guernica (1937) seeks to find a resolution to questions that entered mainstream consciousness and it is works like this that perhaps satisfied critics’ need for sensationalize and thus gave Picasso leverage in publicity and fame. Braque’s fractured still lifes and bourgeois interiors remained emphatically inward-looking as Picasso work became more and more controversial for political subject matter that proved to sell more news papers and art shows than Braque quieter abstract of method and form. I find it odd that it would be Picasso that turned into the political artist when it was Braque that served in the war, but is a matter for another post.

Anyway, it my opinion that Braque’s later paintings were not as separate from outside events as historians and critics would have you believe. While his attention to the private, secluded realm of the still life suggests disengagement with historical and political circumstances, the paintings themselves convey a more complex narrative. The artist’s exactingly internal gaze was precisely what made his work relevant to questions of art, engagement and responsibility to contemporary issues. And I believe that scholars would benefit the cannon by exploring this further. Oh and I am not the only one who feels this way, follow the link!: http://news.wustl.edu/news/Pages/24573.aspx

Braque died on August 31, 1963, in Paris. He is buried in the cemetery of the Church of St. Valery in Varengeville-sur-Mer, Normandy, whose windows he designed. The artist had continued to work during the remainder of his life, producing a considerable number of paintings, graphics, and sculptures. In his last years, Braque worked with prints and lithographs with Fernand Mourlot (who he introduced to Picasso) and most of the book illustrations he created during the 1940’s and ’50s were produced at the Mourlot Studios.  In 1962, a year before his death, Braque was still working and collaborating to make new innovations in art, this time with master printmaker Aldo Crommelynck. His last works are a series of etchings and aquatints titled “L’Ordre des Oiseaux” (“The Order of Birds”) which was accompanied by the poet Saint-John Perse’s text. These prints are dreamlike and are praised for honoring truisms related to birds as spiritual  and sacred.

Here’s another good link (but very dated) http://www.martinries.com/article1995GB.htm

And here’s the rest of the stuff I looked at.




Lee Bontecou

Lee Bontecou. Untitled (detail). 1980–98. Welded steel, porcelain, wire mesh, canvas, wire, and grommets. The Museum of Modern Art

Sputnik 1. 1960’s. Welded steel, wire mesh, wire, and grommets. The Museum of Modern Art

One of my favorite modern sculptors is sadly one of the most under appreciated. Those stuffy academics only briefly describe her work so they can point to her and declare, “But we have examined a female sculptor” and thus the diversity requirements of a text book are met. But I have found that the brevity of textbook discussions of her sculptures are desperately wanting and the singularity of her body of work is overlooked. Most annoying to me is she is rarely credited for pioneering the movement of getting sculpture off the ground. Her entire body of work redefines sculpture by crossing the line separating a sculptural forms from painting.

Essentially, Bontecou uses her skill as a sculptor not only to explore the relationship between 2D drawing and 3D form, but to challenge it. In the 60’s, during the era of space exploration, the artist composed 3D vortexes by stitching together layers of canvas streaked with shades of black onto armatures hung or mounted to a wall.  At this time she also created drawings and lithographs of spherical objects appearing as wayward moons or space capsules or rendered odd creatures and alien plant life. These imposing forms brought together Bontecou’s interest in blackholes, deep space and the relationship between drawing and sculpture. Her early work challenged conventions of sculpture and painting, forcing viewers to consider the boundary between these techniques. At what point does a painting become a sculpture? Or, if a sculpture is mounted to a wall does it become a painting? The massive collages of canvas call to mind the early Cubist collages of Picasso and Braque, which incorporated pieces of torn paper and newsprint. Oddly enough she did not always like sculpting and discovered her talent for the medium while studying abroad. She discovered that while, “You can solve an awful lot of problems with the drawing,” says Bontecou, 73,  you have to do the sculpture to find out it’s not going to work. Lee Bontecou was an artist who throughly enjoyed process as a means of questioning categories and rules of art making.

In the 1970s, after a star-burst of fame, Lee Bontecou vanished from the art world. Curators and scholars do not like to think of artists as being evasive so it often cited that Bontecou was spending the past few decades working in a remote Pennsylvania barn, which she was. But people like to leave out that she was married, had a daughter and also taught at a university at this time. Bontecou defends herself in an interview for The Chicago Reader against accusations that she “dodged” the art world.

“I just went because I wanted to work, and also I was having a child and all kinds of things. My father was living with us at one point. A lot of things change in your life. And then I was teaching. I hadn’t backed away. You can’t be more involved in the arts than teaching. You’re working with other brains, you know. I was right smack in Brooklyn. People say, “You dodged the art world.” Well, heck, they were the art world. I was the art world. I didn’t dodge it.”

Clearly, she had a life outside of art making and I think it is important to consider this when considering her work. Understanding her motivations helps us understand the intention of her art. The isolation allowed her to carefully balance her work as an artist and teacher with her role as a wife and mother.  Her sculptures reflect her life’s balancing acts also by their precarious suspension and tension between sculpture and painting. However, the hiatus did play a part in the lack of enthusiasm of her work.

In 2004, at the request of curator Elizabeth Smith (Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA)) Bontecou debuted her latest series of huge, ethereal, wire-and-ceramic sculptures that hang in midair. Bontecou continues  to be inspired space and biology and these new works assault the senses  like exploding galaxies, or unraveling viruses, or alien insects with bulbous eye pods and antennae. Unveiled in a major coast-to-coast exhibition last October, these sculptures are nothing like the massive steel-and-canvas wall reliefs with ominous “black holes” that brought her renown in the 1960s. These huge wall reliefs are constructed of welded steel covered with cut-up sections of canvas and sometimes encrusted with scrap materials, airplane parts, saw blades or other found objects. Three museum curators who worked on the exhibition (Elizabeth Smith (MCA), Ann Philbin, director of UCLA’s HammerMuseum, Lilian Tone of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)) and  all say they felt the same sense of shock when they first saw her new work. “It was an extraordinary moment,” says Elizabeth Smith. Bontecou uses metal as an Abstract Expressionist uses paint. Looking at these works is almost like looking at a 3D rendition of a Pollock painting. Again she threatens the convectional definitions of sculpture and painting. And hopefully this new exhibit will bring Bontecou the fame she deserves for pushing sculpture to its limits. it is high time that Bontecou enjoyed the same level of esteem as her peers Jasper Johns, John Chamberlain, and Robert Rauschenberg. (Notice how these are all men, hmm lets just not open that can of worms yet)

I pasted below an awesome article from the Smithsonian Magazine and an equally awesome interview with Bontecou and Smith from the The Chicago Reader.



And here is a link to the MOMA website where you can look at her amazing works!