Posts Tagged ‘art’


Art: Jan van de Cappelle
Photo: Savoir Beds
Detail from “A Shipping Scene with a Dutch Yacht firing a Salute” (1650) used on a bed’s headboard.

I thought this was an interesting idea, but if I were going to have art that close to my pillow, I would want it to be soothing, wouldn’t you? A yacht firing a salute would surely wake me up.

Monica Uszerowicz reports at Hyperallergic about a new concept in headboards.

“When Gherardo di Giovanni del Fora painted ‘The Combat of Love and Chastity’ sometime between 1475 and 1500, he was likely illustrating two of the poet Petrarch’s ‘Triumphs,’ translating the allegories into a visual battle of love and the thing that quells it. …

“The London’s National Gallery’s website states that the work is part of a series, ‘probably made for a piece of Florentine furniture towards the end of the 15th century.’

“It’s unclear if British bed maker Savoir Beds’ National Gallery Collection, which debuted earlier this year, was an attempt to accomplish the painter’s vision. … Savoir Beds, known for their hefty price tag and their extraordinary contents (think cashmere made from the necks of Mongolian goats), have partnered with home décor specialist Andrew Martin and London’s National Gallery to create custom beds, each upholstered with artwork on the headboard and the base.

“ ‘The Combat of Love and Chastity’ is one choice, but you can make your own: every single artwork owned by the National Gallery can be reproduced onto a selection of handmade beds. … Claude Monet’s ‘Water-Lilies, Setting Sun’ (1907), spread across the Harlech Savoir No. 2, will cost you £29,587 [$38,679]. …

“They’re calling it ‘the fine art of sleeping beautifully.’ But why now — why this sort of patrician indulgence? Alistair Hughes, Savoir Beds’ Managing Director, told Hyperallergic over email that ‘our clients and artisans have always seen our mattresses and designs as works of art.’ ” OK. And?

Well, just for fun, what work of art would you want on your headboard if you wanted to go that route instead of giving the money to some worthy cause? I would probably pick something with a moon and stars from a children’s book. Maybe one of the Wynken, Blynken, and Nod illustrations. Someone has collected a glorious array of different artists’ illustrations of that poem, here.

More on the extreme beds at Hyperallergic, here.


Read Full Post »


Photo: MTA Arts for Transit
Faith Ringgold’s mosaic “Flying Home: Harlem Heroes and Heroines (Downtown and Uptown),” 1996, is one of the pieces of subway art featured in a PBS documentary.

I’m always amazed by the beauty of the mosaics in the New York subway, even the ones that merely tell you what street you’re at. It makes me happy to see that the city values them, too, and periodically cleans up the oldest ones. They go back as early as 1901.

My sister alerted me to an excellent PBS documentary about recent additions to the art in the subway system. You can read about it at the website Mosaic Art Now.

“For a delightful immersion into the history and current activities of the enormous underground museum that is the New York subway system’s Arts For Transit program, treat yourself to WNET Channel Thirteen’s free one hour video called ‘Treasures of New York: Art Underground.’ …

“Mosaic artist Steven Miotto gets major face time. His decades-long collaboration with artists of all stripes is a fascinating story in itself. When selected by a commissioned artist as a collaborating partner, he gets into their minds and hearts, leading them through the complex process of translating their vision and their graphic designs into mosaic ‘paintings for eternity.’ …

Faith Ringgold, speaks eloquently and nostalgically about the series of paintings – now mosaics – that portray the heroes of her Harlem childhood. Writers and musicians fly across the cityscape in flattened but vivid characterizations. I had the opportunity to interview her when she was in Miami last year, and she spoke about the challenges of trying to ‘make it’ as an African-American artist dealing with political themes at a time when the galleries favored the abstract.  Click here (http://bitly.com/yxGJ3R) to listen to that interview with her.”

See some of the beautiful new mosaics and watch the video here.

If you are up for more on transit-system art, be sure to check out an excellent article by Sarah Hotchkiss at KQED about what’s going on with San Francisco’s Transbay system, here.


Read Full Post »


Photo: Canwood Gallery
An art lover in Herefordshire, England, has turned a cow shed and an old tractor barn into an elegant gallery and event locale.

I love reading about something old getting a new lease on life and serving a completely different purpose. On this farm, workaday buildings were creatively adapted for an art gallery.

Vanessa Thrope writes at the Guardian, “A cow shed and an old tractor barn in rural Herefordshire are not where most people would go in search of the avant garde or the latest in abstract painting. But retired farmer Stephen Dale is challenging the assumption that modern art is best appreciated by city dwellers.

“A run of exhibitions staged by the 74-year-old at the free public art gallery he set up two years ago in Checkley, near Hereford, have now drawn big names from the art world and proved the scale of an appetite for the unexpected in the countryside.

“Canwood Gallery and Sculpture Park, built by Dale on arable land he once farmed, is opening a show of previously unseen paintings by the veteran Royal Academician Anthony Whishaw. The exhibition, Experiences of Nature, also features the work of Whishaw’s late wife, the artist Jean Gibson, as well as a sculpture by her famous former pupil, Nicole Farhi.

“Dale’s unusual, charitable plan to create a gallery in an area of outstanding natural beauty was financed by the sale of much of his land. The farmer’s strong feeling for unconventional art emerged more than 40 years ago, while he was undergoing a difficult and long round of experimental treatments for leukaemia in the 1970s.

“Travelling down to London to take part in a series of drug trials at St Bartholomew’s hospital, Dale entertained himself in his free time with visits to art galleries. An early trip to see Carl Andre’s notorious arrangement of bricks, Equivalent VIII, at the Tate changed his life. A passion for modern art was born. ‘It may sound strange, but the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I guess I fell in love with the bricks,’ Dale said. …

“In Canwood’s first major exhibition last summer, Bricks in the Sticks – A Farmer’s Inspiration, Dale featured a piece made by Carl Andre himself. The American artist’s Isoclast 07 graphite bricks installation, bought by Dale at auction, stood alongside the work of other international artists. A show of Matisse prints followed, and visitors rolled in.

“ ‘Running a farm and running a gallery turn out to be equally stressful,’ said Dale. ‘I did not expect the numbers of people we have coming, nor the standard of artists.’

“While Dale aims at the sort of regional significance enjoyed by the Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield, he also likes the idea of the example set by former farmer and Glastonbury Festival host Michael Eavis at Worthy Farm in Somerset: ‘A festival like that for visual arts would be something.’ ” Dale gives profits from the gallery to the hospital that saved him.

Read more about the artists here.

Read Full Post »


Photo: Emerald Necklace Conservancy
Starting August 11, five “fog sculptures” by artist Fujiko Nakaya will grace the string of Boston parks known as the Emerald Necklace until the end of October. Nakaya uses a system of pumps, pressurized hoses, and ultrafine nozzles to create her sculptures.

You can make art from almost anything, but you need an artist’s imagination to see the possibilities. I notice that in my grandchildren, who take on creative projects that seem impossible to dull adults — like making a necklace with a heavy rock and some paper. In this story, artist Fujika Nakaya saw the possibilities of fog.

As Graham Ambrose reports at the Boston Globe, “The Emerald Necklace, Boston’s 7-mile pendant of parks built in the 19th century, will soon have a new adornment: a string of artworks made from water vapor.

“This summer, artist Fujiko Nakaya will debut ‘fog sculptures’ at five sites along the Necklace. The immersive sculptures — wafting clouds of machine-made mist — will be viewable from dawn to dusk between Aug. 11 and Oct. 31. …

“Mayor Marty Walsh of Boston hailed the project, calling the Emerald Necklace ‘a crown jewel in the City of Boston’ in a statement to the Globe. ‘Similar to the intent of the Emerald Necklace, art has a connecting power, bringing together people from all different backgrounds and all different places.’ …

“Nakaya, born in Japan in 1933, calls fog ‘the most generous of mediums.’ Since 1969 she has built more than 80 fog sculptures across four continents, transforming open spaces into dreamlike landscapes with custom-designed installations. …

Fog is living and dying. It condenses and evaporates simultaneously, with dynamism and vulnerability. It is a positive and negative,” Nakaya told the Globe. …

“To create her sculptures, which emit fog in controlled intervals, Nakaya uses a patented system of pumps, pressurized hoses, and ultrafine nozzles. Computer software receives weather data and alters fog flow to suit wind speeds, dew point, temperature, and humidity.”

Read about the dramatic origins of the sponsoring conservancy at the Boston Globe, here. The Emerald Necklace was the work of landscape visionary Frederick Law Olmsted, who also created designs for New York’s Central Park, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and more.

Read Full Post »



Photo: Chip Thomas, MD, Indian Health Services
“My interest in documentary photography has helped sensitize me to the living conditions and quality of life of my patient population. … To the extent that they’re comfortable with me taking photos, I use these visits as an opportunity to document their lives.” More at the artist-physician’s website, here.

You probably wouldn’t want your doctor to care more about her artwork than helping patients, but a well-rounded physician is likely to bring more depth to medicine.

Jennifer Sokolowsky writes at the Seattle Times that art is becoming part of doctors’ education at Virginia Mason Medical Center in the state of Washington. The idea is to help physicians build both their observational skills and their empathy.

“One afternoon [in June],”  Sokolowsky reports, “a group of Virginia Mason doctors huddled, discussing a man who seemed to be in pain. Instead of being in a hospital, however, the doctors were at Seattle Art Museum, peering closely at the 1930s painting ‘Morning’ by Pacific Northwest artist Morris Graves.

“The painting, showing a man lying uncomfortably on a wood floor, portrayed pain in a way that was familiar to the group. …

“ ‘I thought, “Wow, this is a man I’ve seen before in our emergency room, suffering and sick,” ‘ said Dr. Laura Saganic, a Virginia Mason resident physician.

“The discussion prompted another in the group to observe that when they see their patients, they often don’t think about the patient’s circumstances before coming to the hospital. ‘Were they lying on a hardwood floor, were they in a tent?’ Saganic said.

“Building such observational skills and empathy — so critical to the physician’s art — is one of the goals of a relatively new program that exposes doctors at Virginia Mason Medical Center to arts education at Seattle Art Museum (SAM). …

“This kind of training helps address the fact that modern medical education often focuses much more on the factual side of healing, rather than balancing that knowledge with the kind of intuition and empathy the best medical practitioners can bring. …

“One artwork on the itinerary was ‘William Forbes M.D. (Professor Forbes, the Anatomist),’ a 1905 painting by Thomas Eakins. … The discussion ranged from how an understanding of human anatomy is important to both art and medicine, to the evolution of patients’ rights. …

“After last year’s pilot program, [rheumatologist Amish Dave, who spearheads the program] said, ‘We got a lot of feedback and learned that the residents wanted to spend more time thinking about emotions.”

Wow, that statement stands out to me. It gives me hope for the world to be reminded how common it is nowadays to acknowledge the importance of emotions. That is one of the “little” things we overlook amid the barrage of headlines tending to show humanity sliding backwards. More at the Seattle Times, here.

Do tell me your stories of medical providers’ outside interests, artistic or otherwise.

Photo: Chip Thomas, MD
Navajo women with a newborn goat.


Read Full Post »

Art: Chiura Obata
Upper Lyell Fork, near Lyell Glacier, 1930, color woodblock print. The Japanese-American artist suffered from hostility and interment but was grateful for America’s natural beauty and always gave back.

Maria Popova has an inspiring post at Brain Pickings about a Japanese-American artist who felt grateful for Yosemite and other natural beauty in his adopted country — despite experiencing cruel prejudice, discrimination, and internment.

Popova reports, “Called to art since childhood, Chiura Obata (November 18, 1885–October 6, 1975) was trained in the traditional Japanese ink and brush painting technique sumi-e from the age of seven. When his family readied him for military school at age fourteen, he ran away, left his home prefecture, and traveled four hundred miles north to Tokyo, where he apprenticed himself to a prominent painter for three years.

“Shortly before his eighteen birthday, Obata left for the United States and settled in San Francisco, working as a domestic servant while pursuing an arts education. He was soon supporting himself with illustration work for Japanese-language magazines and newspapers. But the American Dream was not on offer — instead, Obata was met with the era’s prevalent racial animosity toward Japanese immigrants. …

“Perhaps it was this anguishing disappointment with the human world, with its seething cauldron of xenophobia and racism, that made Obata turn his heart and his paintbrush to the natural world. On his first trip to the High Sierra in 1927, watching ‘beautiful flowers bloom in a stream of icy water,’ Obata wrote to his wife, Haruko:

I only feel full of gratitude. …

“By the end of the decade, his paintings had garnered considerable attention. … But neither Obata’s stature in the creative world nor his appointment as an art instructor at U.C. Berkeley protected him from the swarming hostility of the country he had made his home and the recipient of his rare gift. In December of 1941, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, locals fired shots at the art supply store Obata and his wife owned in Berkeley. …

“By the spring, Obata was detained at one of California’s internment camps for Japanese Americans, where he founded an art school using his own funds and donations from friends at the university. Six hundred of the interned became art students and went on to produce work of such quality that it was being exhibited outside the camp by the summer. ”

More at Brain Pickings, here, where you can see other work by this wonderful artist.

Read Full Post »

Art: Roy Lichtenstein
Masterpiece, 1962, was sold by philanthropist Agnes Gund to launch the Art for Justice Fund. 

There’s a movement in the world of philanthropy to combine the arts with social justice. In some cases, donations to arts organizations specify reaching out to poor communities and new audiences. This particular article focuses on collectors who sell art to fund causes they believe in.

Mike Scutari writes at Inside Philanthropy, “After Agnes Gund launched the $100 million Art for Justice Fund with the proceeds from the sale of Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Masterpiece,’ I wondered if collectors represented the sleeping giants of arts philanthropy. The prognosis thus far seems promising.

“A number of founding donors to Art for Justice have committed gifts of artwork or contributions, and late last year, the fund allocated $22 million to 30 criminal justice reform groups and education and arts initiatives. Around the same time, the anonymous consignor of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s ‘Red Skull’ announced they would donate the proceeds to a nonprofit that opens new public charter schools. …

“Glenn Fuhrman and his wife Amanda partnered with Suzanne Deal Booth and The Contemporary Austin to transform the existing $100,000 Suzanne Deal Booth Art Prize, which is currently celebrating its inaugural exhibition, into one of the nation’s largest awards presented to an artist.”

Scutari notes that although the prize doesn’t require attention to social causes, sometimes a winner’s work turns out to have been strongly influenced by the issues of the day.

“Collectors have historically deferred to institutional givers to do the heavy lifting when it comes to traditional grantmaking and the red-hot area of activist art in particular. This is why Gund’s Art for Justice Fund is so important. It’s predicated on the idea that by selling their work, collectors can advance social justice. As Ford [Foundation] President Darren Walker noted, ‘art has meaning on a wall, but it also has meaning when it is monetized.’ …

“An open question is the extent to which the Suzanne Deal Booth / FLAG Art Foundation Prize will align with the surging fields of boosting access to the arts and promoting socially focused work. Corroborating evidence suggests it will.

“Regarding access, the Fuhrmans’ FLAG Art Foundation exhibition space has been free and open to the public since its 2008 opening. The Fuhrman family has also underwritten free admission at the Institute of Contemporary Art [in Philadelphia] annually for nearly a decade. The couple is clearly committed to eliminating financial barriers to access.

“Exemplifying its social focus, in the charged aftermath of the 2016 election, the FLAG Art Foundation curated an exhibition that focused on artists who ‘negotiate politics, tragedies, social issues, and their own perspectives’ by using the New York Times as an inspiration for their work. …

“I recently spoke with VIA Art Fund President and collector Bridgitt Evans on the state of arts philanthropy and floated the theory that collectors are the sleeping giants of arts philanthropy. [VIA means Visionary initiatives in Art. It’s located in Boston.] She concurred with this assessment. Collectors, she said, are ‘exposed to a wider variety of artists, practices, ideas, and social commentary,’ and moving forward, they will ‘direct the same passion they have to collecting to philanthropy.’ ”

Read more at Inside Philanthropy, here.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: