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Posts Tagged ‘hyperallergic’

Art: John James Audubon.
“Lutra Canadensis, Canada Otter” (New York Public Library).

Hyperallergic is an online art magazine with a wide variety of stories that you just want to share. You can read it without paying, but of course, they need contributors as well as readers.

Today’s inspiration from Hyperallergic is about otters.

Sarah Rose Sharp writes, “Though seals are probably the gateway to aquatic mammal fandom, connoisseurs of the genre all agree that otters are best in class. These furry powerhouses are not only capable of tender intimacy and novel tool usage, they often just seem to be having the best time ever. So it’s no wonder that they have been a recurring motif throughout art history. …

“Though better known for his bird illustrations, John James Audubon’s last major work was The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America, produced in collaboration with his friend, the Reverend John Bachman, who wrote the text that accompanies his illustrations. On his final drawing expedition in 1843, Audubon traveled with his son up the Missouri River to document and depict the four-legged mammals of North America — including, of course, otters.

“But the love of these little water scamps goes back much further than a couple of centuries. On view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is just one example of otters as a common motif during the Late Period and Ptolemaic times.

“ ‘The pose of raised paws signifies the otter’s adoration of the sun god when he rises in the morning,’ reads the label on this Ancient Egyptian bronze statuette, dating to between 664 and 30 BCE.

‘In myth otters were attached to the goddess Wadjet of Lower Egypt, whose cult was centered in Buto, in the northern Delta.’ …

“For high otter drama, you can hardly do better than the standoff in Pieter Boel’s painting ‘Otter Harassed by Dogs‘ (c. 1600) currently in the collection of El Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain. … Otters could mess you up at any time, so try to stay on their good side.

“Obviously, otters are a common motif in ancient and contemporary animal fetish carvings, such as [one] example of an ‘otter toy‘ from Cape Prince Of Wales, Alaska, part of the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History collection. According to the Toh-Atin Gallery, otters as a fetish animal represent ‘balanced femininity.’ …

“For the painfully literal seeking out otters in museum collections, nothing can hold a candle to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, whose permanent River Otter installation and background mural in the Hall of North American Mammals was captured by AMNH photographer Denis Finnin. ‘As morning mist veils a lake in Algonquin Provincial Park, a young female river otter comes ashore and inspects a spider web,’ reads the AMNH image description. …

“Speaking of meditative otters, a beautiful painting on silk from the Meiji period, the work of Japanese artist Seki Shūkō, is sure to meet all your needs for minimalist marine mammals. You can practically hear the noise of the rushing river. …

“But otters need not only be social animals, they can also be voices for animal welfare, as a woodcut by South Korean artist Shumu demonstrates.

“ ‘Animals are different from humans in language and appearance,’ the artist said in a message to Hyperallergic. ‘But animals feel the same or similar pain as humans, and they have emotions. Species discrimination against animals must stop. I hope that by continuing to work and share the life of veganism, it can become a small but resonant message.’ “

Nice examples of otter art through the ages at Hyperallergic, here. No firewall. Do you have favorite otter stories or images? Please share them.

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Photo: Hakim Bishara for Hyperallergic.
An abandoned painting in Brooklyn, New York.

When I first started getting serious about the internet in the mid 1990s, the browser I used was Netscape Navigator. Remember that? One thing I really loved about it was the way it put quirky website suggestions at the top of its home page. That was how I learned about the Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dedham, Mass. For a long time I checked MOBA regularly to see what “new” paintings had been rescued from trash cans or abandoned on the side of a road.

I had almost forgotten about MOBA when I read a Hyperallergic story about a similar initiative, an Instagram account called Abandoned Paintings. These paintings are not necessarily “bad,” just no longer wanted. Hakim Bishara of the Soloway Gallery has a report.

“Last summer,” he writes, “while COVID-​19 was still ravaging through New York, I began noticing an unusual amount of discarded paintings on the sidewalks of my neighborhood in Brooklyn. It became an almost daily occurrence as more people moved out to the suburbs or to other states. Instinctively, I started amassing a photo archive of these paintings for a potential project. But as often is the case with new project ideas, I soon found out that someone else has already done it.

“When I stumbled upon artist Jason Osborne’s Instagram account Abandoned Paintings, which has been archiving images of discarded paintings for the last decade, I immediately became a fan. Updated daily with submissions from around the world, it pays a final tribute to these disowned artworks before they fade into the trash heap of history.

“Osborne, an artist with a self-professed fondness for fringe and forgotten art, first started Abandoned Paintings as a blog about unseen paintings in storage facilities of American museums. Soon after, he began documenting discarded paintings that he spotted on sidewalks and trash bins across New York City. …

“In 2011, he [launched] an Instagram account that quickly gained popularity. In time, he started receiving contributions from like-minded fans from across the globe, including France, the United Kingdom, and Chile.

‘As a painting junkie, I like to think of all the other lives that paintings have other than the 10% that we see on the walls of museums and galleries,’ Osborne told Hyperallergic in an interview. …

“According to Osborne, abandoned paintings appear on the streets in cycles, mostly when art students leave their studios at the end of their studies or when people move out of apartments at the end of the month. The mass exodus from NYC during 2020 seemed to interrupt that pattern, adding more abandoned paintings to the streets. …

“With new submissions and inquiries flowing into his DMs daily, Osborne has a handful of anecdotes to share about the different lives that one painting can have. For instance, there have been several cases in which artists reached out to him saying that they identified a painting they had previously sold or gifted to others. One unlucky painting was abandoned twice.

“What’s also interesting is the way that people tend to leave paintings out on the street. Unlike other discarded objects, paintings are often leaned presentably against a wall or a fence, waiting to be noticed and taken. …

“If it were up to Osborne, he would ‘fill entire museums and galleries with discarded paintings.’ But until then, he says, documenting these forlorn artworks has contributed to his understanding of painting in myriad ways.

“ ‘It solved many problems I had in my own work,’ he said.”

More at Hyperallergic, here.

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It’s not fair to make fun of Russians in general when only a few have a problem with Michelangelo’s “David,” but this is a funny story.

Claire Voon wrote at Hyperallergic in July that the city of St. Petersburg would vote in August on whether to cover the statue’s nakedness.

Here’s what she said, “St. Petersburg residents will vote on how to dress a replica statue of Michelangelo’s ‘David’ that came to the city in May, following a complaint from a woman who said his nudity ‘spoils the city’s historic appearance and warps children’s souls.’

“Erected as part of the ongoing Michelangelo. World Creation exhibition at St. Anne’s Lutheran Church in central St. Petersburg, the 16-foot-tall plastic copy compelled the outraged local to pen a letter last week to the Children’s Right’s Ombudsman, as Lenta first reported. …

“While the online post notes that officials have tried to convince Inna that many other naked statues have stood around town for years, she said she still intends to write to all relevant authorities to achieve an ‘early elimination of the giant.’ …

“The organizers of the show have been quite accommodating, though … This week, they launched the monthlong ‘Dress David’ initiative, which invites people to play stylist to the famous nude Renaissance work and submit ideas for outfits, complete with explanations for why David should appear in the proposed garb. An online voting session for selected concepts will open on August 16, with a winner announced a week later. Voters will also have the option to leave the statue as Michelangelo’s original has stood for centuries. …

“In the meantime, organizers have crudely taped a black circular object over the statue’s offending member to protect the untainted souls of passing schoolchildren.” More.

After a bit of Googling, I finally discovered how the voting went, here.

Photo: @misha.ivanov/Instagram
Some Russians actually think this sloppy covering of a David replica is a good idea.

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