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Posts Tagged ‘art’

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I went to the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln Friday to see what New England women had been doing with abstract art since 1950.

I was drawn to the painting above, and no wonder. It turned out to be Cynthia Bloom’s way of seeing New Shoreham, Rhode Island, my favorite place in the smallest state. The explanatory text says the artist “incorporated the natural materials and textures she found there into her work, including dried petals and butterfly wings.”

The gigantic heart sculpture looks sweet enough from a safe distance, but when you get close to Jim Dine’s “Two Big Black Hearts” (1985) and see all the broken tools, horseshoes, ladies shoes, etc., smashed roughly into the surface, you may feel a chill.

What’s nice is that on a summer’s day, you can walk in the shady woods on the deCordova grounds and see art along the paths. The serene head is “Humming,” by Jaume Plensa (2011), and the more abstract piece is “Maiden’s Dream,” by Isaac Witkin (1996). That one makes me ask, “Is it a good dream?”

After spending time on the grounds and in the galleries, I took the elevator to the roof deck and photographed the romantic turrets of what was once the home of art collector Julian de Cordova (1851-1945). I don’t think I had ever been on the roof before. The view over Flint’s Pond is amazing.

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Photo: Ruairi Gray/Twitter
Students tricked a museum into exhibiting an ordinary pineapple as a piece of art.

They used to say of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis that the janitorial staff had to be careful not to leave a mop and bucket in a gallery even for a moment or they could come back to find a cluster of museum-goers studying it.

Actually, that can happen.

Recently, Roisin O’Connor wrote at the Independent that students left a pineapple in a gallery of a Scottish museum and someone on the staff thought it was the real thing.

“Students claim they managed to pass off a pineapple they bought for £1 at a supermarket as a work of art, after leaving it in the middle of an exhibition at their university,

“Ruairi Gray, a business information technology student at Robert Gordon University in Scotland, and his friend Lloyd Jack, reportedly left the fruit at the Look Again exhibition at RGU’s Sir Ian Wood building, hoping that it might be mistaken for art.

“When they returned four days later he found that the pineapple had been put inside its own glass display case at the event. …

“Natalie Kerr, a cultural assistant for the festival who organised the display, said she wasn’t the one who included the fruit as an artwork because she is allergic to pineapple.

” ‘We were moving the exhibition, and came back after 10 minutes and it was in this glass case,’ she told the Press & Journal. …

“The incident recalls a similar prank last year when a 17-year-old placed a pair of glasses on the floor at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

“Apparently unimpressed with some of the work on display and wanting to test the theory that people will try to interpret any object provided it is in a gallery setting, TJ Khayatan placed the glasses on the floor and walked away.

“Soon after, visitors to the gallery surrounded them and began taking pictures.”

More at the Independent, here, and at the NY Times, here.

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Art: Simon Roberts
Simon Roberts was the “election artist” for the 2010 general election in the United Kingdom. He chose 24 images — one for each day of the campaign — to reflect the geographical breadth of the trail
. Cornelia Parker is the election artist for 2017.

Not long ago, my husband pointed out a story about official “election artists” in England. That was a new idea for me.

An article in the Economist offers background.

“Many were bemused by the announcement on May 1st that Cornelia Parker was to be the official artist of the 2017 general election. Not as a comment on Ms Parker’s credentials — she is widely considered to be one of Britain’s most exciting contemporary artists — but to discover that such a post exists.”

Parker is the first woman chosen since the post was established in 2001 and the first conceptual artist.

“Jonathan Yeo, the inaugural artist, created a triptych oil painting of the main party leaders where the size of their portrait correlated to their portion of the vote. In 2005, David Godbold produced Hogarthian satirical illustrations on scraps of election ephemera such as manifestos, letters and flyers. In 2010 Simon Roberts photographed the quiet lanes and doorstep conversations of day-to-day campaigning …

“Ms Parker is using an Instagram account (@electionartist2017) to offer an eclectic commentary: so far she has posted pictures of road signs, homeless people and newspaper headlines. One image, captioned ‘The election contenders,’ shows a group of waving garden gnomes.

“Two further stipulations come with the role. First is that the artist must remain politically impartial. … The second is that they must produce a final work — one that can be put on display, or contain elements that can be displayed — which will eventually join the parliamentary art collection.”

I searched the web but couldn’t find Parker’s piece for the permanent collection. Maybe a reader will find it for me. It’s hard to envision what an artist known for “detonated sheds, cut-up shotguns and squashed instruments” would come up with, even if she is currently focused on instagram.

The Economist story is here, the Guardian‘s here and the New Yorker‘s here.

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Image: The Art Newspaper
Alexander Ponomarev’s underwater art project, “Alchemy of Antarctic Albedo (or Washing Pale Moons)” was said to be for the edification of whales.

Quirky art projects in quirky places call for quirky reporters. Adrian Dannatt writes entertainingly at the Art Newspaper about memorable moments experienced on a trip to cover underwater art — in the Antarctic.

“Typical barren beach; Joaquin Fargas putting reflective silver sheets over the rocks to try and help stop global warming whilst the young architect Gustav Düsing was busy with his white cotton tent, sprayed with water to freeze rock-solid like salt or Greek marble drapes. …

“Rather effective photo exhibition using special plastic display boxes on tripods mounted in the water and along the beach, the horizon line in a photograph next to actual horizon on the sea. …

“At 4 pm it had been a week since we first came up the gangplank and boarded this boat, now our dear old friend. All gather on the back deck for Alexander-the-Great, Pon-Pon lui-même to launch his own underwater art project, ‘Alchemy of Antarctic Albedo (or Washing Pale Moons).’

“These submerged lit globes will be lowered into the sea in order ‘to clean the moon ash.’ He happily admits that he is making this work just for the whales, typically generous, ‘they are a better audience than so many others.’ …

“Much masculine labour, heaving and pushing, to get the moon-balls out to sea, a sweaty, rather laborious form of three-dimensional poetry.

We went out in our Zods but of course could not see anything of the project because it was all underwater, made for the fishes rather than mere humans.

“However the two Argentine underwater divers, fantastic moustachioed veterans straight out of Hemingway, who had been very dismissive and suspicious of the whole thing, were actually impressed, touched, transformed by seeing the reality. Which makes it a successful art work by any definition, and the whales apparently surely adored it also.” More here.

It feels both silly and sacred. Like liturgical clowns.

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I’m back to taking walks near my home and looking for interesting shadows. The current collection of photos includes leaf shadows on a tree trunk. Only a couple dog walkers were out when I shot this, but I noted an unusual number of cars outside a house flying “2017” balloons. Probably a late-night graduation bash. All was quiet as the grave at 6:30 a.m.

Nearby, blue lupines caught my attention. I admired many lovely ones in Sweden and was happy to see that, while I was gone, a whole batch was blooming along my usual walking route.

I’m also sharing a grapevine over a bench, a bonsai tree near the church herb garden, and a deep red rose on a white picket fence.

More unusual: the big playhouse at the nursery school and some elaborate digital art by high school students.

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061017-Felippo-Lippi-Madonna-and-Child

I made it to “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine” at the Museum of Fine Arts. By the time I paid for the ticket, the parking garage, lunch, and gas, it was an expensive outing, but I was glad I went. The show closes July 9.

Curiously, I think I loved the tenderness of the mother-and-child by Felippo Lippi (above) the most. That isn’t to say there wasn’t a splendid Botticelli Venus, holding her long tresses in a way that made her look like Eve and the snake. And I was delighted to see the famous Minerva and centaur that I admired so much in Florence when I was 16.

I don’t think I ever knew the centaur story. I ask you, does it look more like the Goddess of War just defeated a warlike centaur or like a tragic couple accepting that they have no future together? The latter version is what I made up, and it still works for me.

But getting back to Botticelli’s teacher: I remembered the name from “Fra Felippo Lippi,” a long, biographical poem by Robert Browning that we were assigned in high school.

So when I got home, I went on Google to have a look. The poem includes a description of the artist’s early years as a street urchin, before being handed over to the friars to be trained as a monk. I wanted to share this section of the poem about how Lippi became a close observer of his world.

“But, mind you, when a boy starves in the streets
“Eight years together, as my fortune was,
“Watching folk’s faces to know who will fling
“The bit of half-stripped grape-bunch he desires,
“And who will curse or kick him for his pains, —
“Which gentleman processional and fine,
“Holding a candle to the Sacrament,
“Will wink and let him lift a plate and catch
“The droppings of the wax to sell again,
“Or holla for the Eight and have him whipped, —
“How say I? — nay, which dog bites, which lets drop
“His bone from the heap of offal in the street, —
“Why, soul and sense of him grow sharp alike,
“He learns the look of things, and none the less
“For admonition from the hunger-pinch.
“I had a store of such remarks, be sure,
“Which, after I found leisure, turned to use.
“I drew men’s faces on my copy-books,
“Scrawled them within the antiphonary’s marge,
“Joined legs and arms to the long music-notes,
“Found eyes and nose and chin for A’s and B’s,
“And made a string of pictures of the world
“Betwixt the ins and outs of verb and noun …”

More on Lippi at Wikipedia, here, and on Botticelli, here.

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Mary Ann alerted me to a local art show co-curated by her artist friend Holly Harrison. I will be visiting this exhibit more than once — it’s a beautiful assemblage of artworks that incorporate words, and there’s a lot to read.

Included in the show “Inhabiting Words” are two needlework pieces by Liz Shepherd that I think will interest blogger KerryCan, given her recent post about a woman who stitched information for her citizenship test into a sampler. (Read it here.)

KerryCan wrote that the citizenship project “was created by artist Aram Han Sifuentes. Sifuentes, from South Korea, prepared for her own US citizenship test by embroidering a sampler of 100 questions and answers typical of the test questions, questions like, ‘What did Susan B. Anthony do?’ ‘Who wrote the Declaration of Independence?’ ‘What is the capital of your state?’ ” I think I should suggest this to a certain Cambodian ESL student who sews.

In Liz Shepherd’s creation for the Concord Center for the Visual Arts show, the topic is religion and its sometimes unintended consequences. Here she stitches ruminations by the late Christopher Hitchens.

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