Posts Tagged ‘art’

Source: Biodiversity Heritage Library
A Stanley parakeet, one of 42 plates in Edward Lear’s
Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots.

Years ago, I read a biography of Edward Lear in which I learned that Lear had distinguished himself at a young age as an illustrator of nature — long before his playful limericks found an audience.

A new biography by Jenny Uglow brings more details to Lear’s story. And Cara Giaimo has a post about him at Atlas Obscura, where she reviews Peter Levi’s Lear biography.

“Edward Lear was a man unafraid of his own imagination,” writes Giaimo. “In his best-known nonsense poems and limericks, he wrote of things the world has never seen: green-headed Jumblies; toeless Pobbles; oceanic romances between birds and cats.

“But before he began bringing these impossibilities to life, Lear had a different focus: he drew parrots. When he was young, Lear was employed as an ornithological illustrator, and he spent years learning to draw birds, favoring live models in an era when most worked from taxidermy. Before he turned 20, he’d published Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots, a critical success, and the first monograph produced in England to focus on a single family of birds.

“Lear was born in London in 1812. One of the youngest of a gaggle of kids. … He was raised mostly by his oldest sister, Ann. According to biographer Peter Levi, it was Ann who taught Lear to draw. …

“Early on in Lear’s childhood, his father went into debt, and his family fell on hard times. When he turned 15, he decided to put his talents to work professionally, and began taking commissions for everything from decorative fans to ‘morbid disease drawings for hospitals,’ as he later wrote a friend. In this way, he explained, he managed to make enough money ‘for bread and cheese.’

“But when he found the time to choose his own subjects, he often made his way to London’s Zoological Gardens. … While many artists of the time relied on taxidermied specimens—which, after all, were better at staying still—Lear preferred drawing live animals, and was known to occasionally enter their cages, so as to get a better look. …

“Lear’s models inspired at least one bit of verse. In December of 1830, he ended a letter to a friend with an account of a parrot-filled day that had left him rather peckish:

‘Now I go to my dinner,
‘For all day I’ve been a-
‘way at the West End,
‘Painting the best end
‘Of some vast Parrots
‘As red as new carrots,—
‘(They are at the museum,—
‘When you come you shall see ‘em,—)
‘I do the head and neck first;
‘—And ever since breakfast,
‘I’ve had one bun merely!
‘So — yours quite sincerely.

“As this poem suggests, the job was rather demanding. … Eventually, though, he boiled the process down to a science. First, Levi writes, ‘A young zookeeper would hold the bird while Lear measured it in various directions.’ Then Lear would make a few pencil drawings of the parrot, in different poses, doing his best to ignore the curious public (although sometimes he drew them, too). …

“By 1831, he and Ann had moved houses to be closer to the Zoo; the next year, he put out what would be his final batch of parrot lithographs, drew up a table of contents, and encouraged his subscribers to bind them into a complete book. He was 19 years old.

“Although he started out expecting to produce 14 sets of illustrations, depicting about 50 species, Lear ended up stopping just short. … He didn’t want to make the same mistakes as his father. ‘To pay colourer and printer monthly I am obstinately prepossessed,’ he explained, ‘[and] I had rather be at the bottom of the River Thames than be one week in debt.’ …

“Levi writes of Lear’s participation in [John] Gould’s Birds of Europe, ‘The queerer the animal the more it arrested him.’ ”

More here.

Lear-inspired plates that my family members have cherished for years.


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Photo: Sven Creutzmann/Mambo photo/Getty Images
A performance at the 2015 Havana Biennial. When the Cuban government postponed this year’s event, artists took matters into their own hands.

The recent hurricanes have stressed official budgets all over the Caribbean, and in Cuba, the government blames Irma recovery costs for its decision to postpone a popular arts biennial.

So artists and art lovers decided to organize an alternative event, as Laurie Rojas reports at the Art Newspaper.

“A crowdfunding campaign was launched [in December] for the #00Bienal (5-15 May 2018), an independent alternative event that is due to take the place of the 13th Havana Biennial, which the Cuban government has postponed until 2019 because of a lack of resources after Hurricane Irma hit the island. …

“ ‘The democratically minded #00Bienal will be ‘the Havana Biennial for everyone,’ says the artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, one of the main organisers of the event.

“The aim is to provide a platform for artists who do not have the visibility or official status to participate in a government-sponsored biennial. Street, Outsider, performance, digital and conceptual artists and photographers are all invited to submit proposals. …

“[Alcántara] says that ‘the government made a grave error’ when it postponed the Havana Biennial, describing it as ‘the most important cultural event in the country.’

“Other artists and curators, including Tania Bruguera, Alvaro Saavedra and Coco Fusco, as well as independent cultural spaces in Havana, have volunteered to help realise the #00Bienal. It will be completely self-funded and will not seek money from the state.”

Check out the Art Newspaper, here, as well as the Havana Times, here. Hyperallergic details here the government hostility Alcántara ran into for organizing the alternative event.

Two couples I know went to Cuba last year and loved it. If you go in May, please let me know if you see the arts event.

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Photo: Flying Studio / Mary Corse, Kayne Griffin Corcoran
Mary Corse transformed the exterior of her studio into “Untitled (White Light Bands).” The art takes on an otherworldly glow at dusk.

Here is a story about art works that you have to see in person because the light shifts when you move.

Carolina A. Miranda reports at the Los Angeles Times,”If you stand outside of Mary Corse’s studio in Topanga Canyon at just the right hour, you might get to see one of her works come to life. The painter, who is known for playing with the properties of light, last year transformed the exterior of her studio into one of her largest pieces to date. Along the building’s exterior face, she painted a sequence of four simple columns employing one of the materials for which she is best known: white paint mixed with glass microbeads. The material is what gives street signs and lane markings their illuminative properties.

“ ‘They don’t reflect light, they prism,’ Corse says. ‘It makes a triangle between the surface, the viewer and light. So if the viewer moves, then it changes.’

“In broad daylight, the columns on Corse’s studio are barely perceptible. But at dusk, when the light dims, it is a different story. The moment the wall is hit by any stray beam of light, the columns take on an otherworldly glow.

The effect is that of a portal opening into a parallel universe. …

“Since the 1960s, the Los Angeles artist has produced a body of work that toys with light and the emotional states it can induce — using reflective and refractive materials to create pieces that can shift and change in surprising ways as you move before them. …

“As an artist, she has remained somewhat under the radar — known to a circle of art world insiders; less so to the general public.

“That is changing. [Corse had a November show at] Kayne Griffin Corcoran in Los Angeles, with works from various stages in her career — including an immersive environment she first conceived in the 1960s titled ‘The Cold Room,’ a free-standing structure kept at near-freezing temperatures, in which floats a spectral light box. …

“In May, Dia:Beacon, the temple to minimalism in New York’s Hudson Valley, will present a long-term installation of four recently acquired works covering the span of her career. And the following month, the Whitney Museum of American Art will open the doors on Corse’s first solo museum survey.

“ ‘It will be focusing on her critical moments,’ says the exhibition’s curator, Kim Conaty, ‘starting with her early experiments with shaped canvases, when she was beginning to think about how to find light within painting. …

” ‘She has not only used materials in innovative ways to literally capture light,’ Conaty says, “but to also capture the metaphysical qualities of light. And she has done a lot of it through painting.’ …

“Conaty says the work requires some commitment from the viewer.

“ ‘You pass it, you do the double take, you come back, you move along the side of it,’ she says. ‘You can’t just walk through.’ ”

Conaty is a close friend of Suzanne, so if you are in New York City in June, please go see the Mary Corse show she’s curating.

More on Corse at the Los Angeles Times, here.

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Photo: David Brichford
This eight-panel folding screen, a late 1800s example of Korean “Chaekgeori,” makes one observer think of a kind of instagram photo popular today. The screen was displayed in a recent Cleveland Museum of Art exhibition.

Some people call instagram pictures of their beautifully appointed bookshelves “shelfies.” They might think the fad is a 21st C. idea, but in 18th C. Korea, something similar was going on.

Claire Voon writes about the Cleveland Museum of Art’s recent chaekgeori exhibit at the website Hyperallergic.

“You could call it a very early precursor to the ‘shelfie.’ Long before we were snapping pictures of our bookshelves to show off our literary troves on the ‘gram, there was chaekgeori, a style of Korean still-life painting that emerged in the late 18th century. Spread across the panels of folded screens, these images of near-life-size bookshelves were also meant to express an individual’s intellect, and often stood in a scholar’s room as a beautiful, dignifying backdrop.

“More broadly, they were markers of one’s social status, putting on full view the objects of refined taste and affluence. Chaekgeori (pronounced check-oh-ree) literally means ‘books and things.’ Aside from tomes stacked on tomes on tomes, these massive paintings also featured writing tools, luxury goods from abroad, and gourmet delicacies, all neatly arranged. …

“The interest in depicting bookshelves grew under the reign of King Jeongjo of the Joseon Dynasty, between 1776 and 1800, and flourished through the early 20th century. As Sooa McCormick, the museum’s assistant curator of Korean art explained, Jeongjo [began] commissioning chaekgeori as a royal emblem to display around his royal throne. …

“ ‘Books became a symbol of high social status and power,’ McCormick told Hyperallergic. … ‘Learned individuals made up a very, very small percent of the population.’ …

“In a few instances, screens also included Western objects: one of the paintings on view [in Cleveland] boasts a rare depiction of European mechanical clocks — a subtle yet significant record of the kinds of cultural exchanges that occurred during this period.

” ‘When historians look at ancient, premodern Korea, they often describe Korea as “a hermit kingdom” — as if Korea never really interacted with the bigger world,’ McCormick said. ‘But when you look at these works, you see that Koreans traveled to Beijing, and that European materials were also introduced to Korean audiences at the time.”

More at Hyperallergic, here. (This lead came from twitter.)

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Photo: NJ Advance Media
Rodin sculpture of Napoleon turns up in a New Jersey town hall. Drew University grad student Mallory Mortillaro did the legwork to authenticate it. She is pictured here with Rodin expert Jérôme Le Blay.

Sometimes lost treasures actually get found. In this story, a bust by famed sculptor Auguste Rodin turned up in a New Jersey town hall, thanks to a determined grad student.

Justin Zaremba wrote about the discovery at NJ Advance Media.

“The art world lost track of acclaimed sculptor Auguste Rodin’s bust of Napoleon in the 1930s, but it’s apparently been on display for the past 85 years in the most unlikely of places — the council chambers in Madison [New Jersey] Borough Hall. …

” ‘Napoléon Enveloppé Dans Son Rêve’ (‘Napoleon Wrapped in his Dream’) was ‘long rumored’ to be Rodin’s work but the borough and the Hartley Dodge Foundation, which owns the sculpture, didn’t know for certain until about two years ago … [when] Drew University graduate student Mallory Mortillaro was hired by the foundation to go through the various art pieces at the Hartley Dodge Memorial Building.

“The bust was able to hide for so long, he said, because it weighs 700 pounds and requires about five people to move it and its attached pedestal. Rodin’s signature had been hidden from view for decades because that side of the sculpture was pushed against the wall. …

“The building and the artworks inside it were deeded over to Madison by Ethel Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge in the 1930s as a memorial to her son, Marcellus Hartley Dodge Jr., who died in a car accident at the age of 22. The foundation’s sole focus is on preserving the art and architecture of the building. …

“Mortillaro began her detective work by researching every book on Rodin she could find, doing online searches, visiting the Rockefeller archives and contacting officials in the art world.

“Mortillaro, now a teacher at Lawton C. Johnson Middle School in Summit, pursued the case despite receiving the brush off from various art experts.

” ‘No one was being very receptive,’ she said.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

“Mortillaro got in touch with the world’s leading Rodin expert, Jérôme Le Blay, formerly of the Rodin Museum in Paris. …

“According to Mortillaro, when Le Blay walked into the council chambers he turned and said ‘Hello my friend, so is this where you have been hiding?’ …

“The bust had originally been conceived and begun in 1904 at the behest of New York collector John W. Simpson in 1904, but the commission wasn’t completed. Four years later, Thomas Fortune Ryan saw the unfinished piece in Rodin’s studio and acquired it. Rodin completed the piece in 1910. …

“[Hartley Dodge Foundation trustee Nicholas] Platt said the borough and the foundation kept the bust’s identity hidden until now because the insurance company wouldn’t insure the piece for its value and allow them to have the bust open to the public. That’s why for a limited time, it’ll be open to the public — though protected by security — before it leaves the Garden State.

“Platt estimated the piece was worth anywhere from ‘the mid-millions to the 10 million’ range depending on the market.”

The bust will go out on loan to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for a year.

More here.

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Photo: anekoho/shutterstock
As art classes get cut back, Philadelphia foundations are stepping up to protect a vital part of education.

In this time of cutbacks in school arts programs, it is heartening to see some organizations stepping up to the plate. If the trend continues, we may all need to start volunteering in schools — just as scores of parishioners at my church did for an amazing arts and crafts day yesterday. The only problem is, Who has the time for sustained volunteering when government doesn’t do its part?

In Philadelphia, foundations are providing some respite, as Mike Scutari reports at Inside Philanthropy.

“In June of 2013, Philadelphia’s School Reform Commission approved massive cuts in funding in what critics referred to as ‘The Doomsday Budget.’ Cuts included mass faculty layoffs, reduction of materials and athletics programs, and the complete elimination of arts and music programs.

“Four years later, Peter Dobrin, the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s culture writer, surveyed the city’s music education landscape and convincingly argued that funders sufficiently rose to the challenge, pointing to city’s web of innovative music education programs, including:

  • Play On, Philly!, launched in 2013 with seed money from Carole Haas Gravagno and the Lenfest Foundation.
  • The Philadelphia Youth Orchestra’s Tune Up Philly, which receives support from Impact100, a women’s giving collective.
  • AristYear Philadelphia, which will pay 12 arts teaching fellows in area schools with a high percentage of children from low-income families. The Knight Foundation has supported both Artist Year Philadelphia and Play On, Philly!

“Knight is only one of many influential funders active in the city. William Penn Foundation has doubled down on arts education, allocating more than $12 million over the last 4 years …

“The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, meanwhile, recently awarded more than $2.5 million to a new program called the Philadelphia Music Alliance for Youth.

“Other examples include the Neubauer Family Foundation, which, in tandem with other local organizations, is ‘working to figure out what arts education programs are here already to determine what’s needed’  …

“The city’s financial woes were so calamitous that, funders, most of whom already had extensive footprints in the city, had no choice but to respond en masse. …

“In many cases, we’re not talking about your standard music education programs.

“Play On, Philly!, for example, is billed as ‘music for social change.’ Its 2017 summer programming included anti-child obesity and ‘active play’ programming at neighborhood recreation centers. ,,,

“More than ever, funders tend to support arts experiences that are immersive, experiential, and drive positive social outcomes.

“Now, consider the supporting role of big data in framing the arts as a means for driving social change.

“Play On, Philly!’s pilot collected data to show that students in the program improve their self-perceptions, academic motivation and school attendance, all while learning to play and perform a musical instrument. …

“Funders, increasingly beholden to this ROI [return on investment] mindset, are more inclined to cut checks when backed by compelling data. …

“All involved parties agree that access and equality is the key. Funders, more than ever, intuitively rally around this idea. Breadth is important, as well — ‘the net must be cast wide to capture all the talent out there,’ said Dorbin. Music education shouldn’t be just for future Julliard students.”

More here.

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Photo: http://www.mlive.com/
Seitu Jones, a St Paul, Minnesota, artist who teaches urban food systems at the University of Minnesota is behind the community meal that won an art award.

Minnesota is home to many cutting-edge artistic endeavors, and the one described by Jim Harger at mlive.com is no exception. It’s neighborhood picnic as work of art.

“The ArtPrize Nine jurors — each of them experts in art — went for a neighborhood picnic in awarding the $200,000 juried grand prize for ArtPrize Nine.

” ‘Heartside Community Meal,’ an outdoor meal for 250 guests in Heartside Park on Sept. 23, was entered by Seitu Jones, a Saint Paul, Minnesota, artist who teaches urban food systems at the University of Minnesota.

” ‘This is a project that came out of love,’ said Jones after the award was announced on Friday, Oct. 6.

“The meal, served on a 300-foot-long table in Heartside Park, was aimed at engaging residents of the mixed-income neighborhood with each other over a table of locally produced foods. …

” ‘Seitu’s work speaks to some of the key issues in America now,’ [juror Gaetane] Verna said. ‘Access to food, access to community and people being able to create a space of conversation, exchange and synergy for everyone. He speaks to what is important in the context of the “now” in his practice, not just the ability to paint or draw.’

“Juror Scott Stulen, director and president of Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma, nominated ‘Heartside Community Meal,’ saying he was struck by the event, where

‘people were sitting down and talking to people they would never talk to otherwise.’ …

“Inviting residents of condos and luxury apartments to dine with homeless residents who live beneath overpasses was a challenge for both groups, Jones said.

“Guests, both rich and poor, were moved by the experience, said Jones, who declared, ‘Of course this is art!’ when asked about the artistic nature of the big meal.”

More here.

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