Friday, May 30, 2008

Childhood Toy Turned Out to be Ancient Treasure

John Webber’s grandfather gave him this golden cup to play with when he was just a child back in 1945. When John was moving house last year, he discovered it in a shoebox under his bed and on a whim decided to get it valued. And a good thing that he did, because it turned out to be a rare piece of ancient Persian treasure worth a million bucks!

Webber, 70, told The Guardian newspaper that his grandfather had a "good eye" for antiques and picked up "all sorts" as he plied his trade in the town of Taunton in south-west England.

"Heaven knows where he got this, he never said," he added, revealing that as a child, he used the cup for target practice with his air gun.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Creative Purses. by Kathleen Dustin

Ceramic artist Kathleen Dustin is widely recognized as one of the world's leading polymer clay artist, & who has been working with polymer clay for more than two decades, developing her own techniques as it was a material with no history as a fine art or fine craft medium. Her exquisite evening bags have been celebrated for their emotional images of women, vibrant colors & creativity.

Creativity With Grass.

Vertical gardens are very popular these days. And for growing these, all you need is a metal support, PVC & grass felt, & its not that difficult as it looks. Patrick Blanc is a well-known vertical garden architect & this is his work:

Friday, May 16, 2008

This is Johan Lorbeers's urban art.

Johan Lorbeer is a German street performer. He became famous in the past few years because of his “Still-Life” Performances, which took place in the public area. His installations includes “Proletarian Mural” and “Tarzan”, which are famous in Germany. Several of these performances feature Lorbeer in an apparently impossible position.With his still-life performances, this German artist seems to unhinge the laws of gravity. For hours on time, he remains, as a living work of art, in physically impossible positions. Elevated or reduced to the state of a sculpture, he interacts with the bewildered and irritated audience, whose appetite for communication rises as time goes by, often culminating in the wish to touch the artist in his superhuman, angelic appearance in order to participate in his abilities.Is it magic or does Johan really have superhuman ability? Check out Johan’s little secret at the end of the page.Here’s a little clue on the trick; His arm is the supporting bar, and his real arm is hide inside his cloth.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Video profile of BLAB!'s Monte Beauchamp

Here's Lo-Fi Saint Louis' profile of BLAB! publisher Monte Beauchamp.

If you don’t know Blab, you should. It’s a collection of artists published lovingly in a magazine only once a year and each issue is kicked off with a gallery opening of work from the book. This past issue was launched at the Philip Slein Gallery right here in our own little city of St. Louis. Beauchamp has published several other books as well. You can get them all from Fantagraphic Books.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Hamburger Kunsthalle Presents American Painter Mark Rothko. The Retrospective

Mark Rothko (1903-1970), Entrance to Subway (Subway Station / Subway Scene), 1938, Öl auf Leinwand, 86,4 x 117,5 cm. Collection Kate Rothko Prizel © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2008.

HAMBURG.- Hamburger Kunsthalle presents Mark Rothko. The Retrospective, on view through 24 August 2008. The American painter Mark Rothko (1903-1970) is one of the most important representatives of Abstract Expressionism. Twenty years after the last retrospective in a German museum this show at the Hamburger Kunsthalle offers a unique opportunity to discover his outstanding oeuvre anew. In the face of the most recent developments on the art market, where prices for Rothko’s paintings have skyrocketed and considering the high sensitivity of the colour surface of his pictures and the challenging issues of conservation, the realisation of this exhibition marks a very special effort and a great responsibility to both the lenders and their works. A comparable opportunity to see Rothko’s oeuvre in this concentration and quality will not arise in Europe for a long time to come.

The exhibition comprises more than 110 works including more than 70 oil paintings on canvas and more than 40 works on paper. It presents works from all phases of Rothko’s career and allows the immediate experience of their intriguing and mysterious aura which no reproduction is able to capture. More than two thirds of the paintings come from the USA and the majority of these have never before been shown in Germany.

After his early interest in Surrealism, Rothko completely turned towards abstraction around 1946. In his multiforms, multiply-layered, freely composed, varying shapes of colour, he devoted all attention to the interaction of colour and shape in both the contrasts and harmonies resulting from their combination. In the later phase for which he is best known, Rothko most often arranged three horizontal, coloured rectangles with slightly blurring edges above one another. Like no artist before him did he foreground the expressive potential of colour alone – liberated from all narrative or figural elements – and in this way created paintings of high emotional intensity. Rothko himself said that his work was about the expression of the most fundamental human emotions with the means of colour.

“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of colour or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on … The fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions … the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them.”

Seen in a surrounding of dimmed lighting and viewed from a close distance, these paintings unfold their overwhelming power and their capacity to dissolve all borders. As the exhibition reveals, the glowing, intensely coloured and highly emotional paintings have lost nothing of their fascination and immense power of attraction.

Mark Rothko. The Retrospective presents the paintings of the American painter within an unusual context. Two historical precursors mark the poles between which Rothko struggles for his abstract visual language: On one side there is the Romantic European legacy of Caspar David Friedrich. In his landscapes the viewers (their place in the paintings taken over by the figures shown from the back) are drawn into the revelation of a space of personal emotion and reflection very much comparable to Rothko’s paintings. This comparison can be made directly in the exhibition where Rothko’s large intensely colourful abstractions are hanging right next to paintings by Friedrich like the Wanderer above the Sea of Fog (c. 1817).

On the other side there is painting as practiced by Pierre Bonnard, the famous modern French painter of the Nabis School, whose works are flooded by the sensuous colours and bright light of the Mediterranean and who took part in modernity’s effort to liberate colour from its representational function and to foreground, instead, its presence and radiance within the artwork. The paintings by Bonnard selected for this exhibition clearly show how Rothko, who had seen Bonnard’s pictures in New York, picked up the special quality of Mediterranean painting in his colour field painting.

The exhibition closes with a perspective on the traditions relevant for contemporary American art and shows the late Black and Gray paintings which give an idea of the bewilderment and despair that Rothko sensed late in his life.

Robert Rauschenberg, iconic artist, dead at 82

Robert Rauschenberg was one of the most influential artists in the second half of the 20th Century. In this 1998 photo, Rauschenberg is seen in the Gemini GEL studios where he was working on a project on Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times photo by Iris Schneider / January 26, 1998)

By Alan G. Artner | Tribune critic
10:30 AM CDT, May 13, 2008

Robert Rauschenberg, the American painter, sculptor, printmaker, photographer and performance artist who was one of the most influential artists in the second half of the 20th Century, died Monday night at his home in Captiva Island, Fla., according to news reports. He was 82.

The cause was heart failure, said Arne Glimcher, chairman of PaceWildenstein, the gallery in Manhattan that represented the artist.

A prolific worker in many media that he combined according to rules all his own, Rauschenberg was as much a catalyst for others as a creator who sought to operate in a kind of aesthetic no-man's land, which he famously called "the gap between art and life."

Like his friends and collaborators composer John Cage and choreographer Merce Cunningham, Rauschenberg brought together chance procedures, everyday experiences and found materials to create pieces that testified to new possibilities in art. Such openness, along with his habitual blurring of the boundaries between media, gave a model for generations of younger artists.

Related links

Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008 Robert Rauschenberg, 1925-2008 Photos

"His ferocious, almost omnivorous creativity as a young artist in the [late] '40s, '50s and even into the '60s was so liberating for his generation and the generation that followed," said James Cuno, director of the Art Institute of Chicago.

"He brought a freedom and openness not burdened by the weight of the immediate past. Everything he touched in the '40s and '50s seemed to be new and challenging, and it was not about him but the potential of artmaking.

"In a sense he was a naif, the innocent savant, the old boy from Texas who didn't have the intricate intelligence of Jasper Johns or the worldly intelligence of Cy Twombly [both his artist friends], but didn't see anything he didn't like and couldn't add to."

Rauschenberg was born Oct. 22, 1925, in Port Arthur, Texas. He studied for a year at the Kansas City Art Institute and School of Design, before a disappointing six-month stay in Paris at the Academie Julian. After reading about the work of artist Josef Albers, Rauschenberg returned to the United States to study with him at Black Mountain College in North Carolina.

Soon finding Albers intimidating, Rauschenberg moved to New York City to work at the Art Students League but also continued to visit Black Mountain College, where he met Cage and Cunningham, with whom he was to collaborate for many years. Working with others--especially avant-garde dancers and musicians--became a favorite way of creating.

"I like any kind of collaborative thing," Rauschenberg said in 1982. "In fact, even my personal work usually involves the handling or mishandling of someone else. I guess it's a sort of device to try to retard stylism, which to me is deadly. ... I think that two people in an exchange of information or techniques have a lot more. It's almost the equivalent of six sets of energies, not just two."

In the early 1950s, when Abstract Expressionist painters were being recognized as the strongest artists to have emerged in the United States, Rauschenberg found himself "revolted" by their rhetoric and began to paint very different abstractions. These were all in one color--white paintings, followed by a series in black, then red--and the first of them were made in conjunction with dance performances. They were not seen by Rauschenberg as a vehicle for projecting his own personality. Instead, he conceived them as screens that would reflect collaboration, changing with different lighting and the shadows of dancers.

The spareness of Rauschenberg's monochromes would one day make them seem anticipatory of Minimal Art, though the artist was only much later (in the 1970s) stimulated by austerity. His works of the mid-'50s, on the contrary, found ways to bring more, rather than less, into modern art--he even made "paintings" of earth and grass--and ultimately that meant a re-introduction of the figure.

A radical effort of the '50s was a group of monoprints Rauschenberg made with his wife, Susan Weil, by turning a sunlamp on a nude model who posed on blueprint paper. These works not only prefigured Yves Klein's creation of paintings by means of bodily imprints but also introduced new, mixed techniques to what would become a major area of his art production: printmaking.

"In thinking about the most impressive large bodies of prints in the 20th Century, Picasso is the main event and Johns and Rauschenberg are considered competitively," said Mark Pascale, associate curator of prints and drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago.

"But every time Rauschenberg approached printmaking, he did it freshly. He was always looking for a new facet to explore. He seemed to absorb the history of making prints, and it suggested to him so much more. He saw the potential of printmaking to do all sorts of other things. In that, he was more important than anyone."

Rauschenberg's desire to go beyond Abstract Expressionism led to several works, such as the erasure of a Willem De Kooning drawing, that were initially misconstrued as anti-art or Dada gestures. However, he did show strong kinship with one Dada artist, Kurt Schwitters, who early in the century made collages from materials found in the gutter.

In the mid-'50s, Rauschenberg began to use the collage technique, incorporating found objects and other materials from everyday life into paintings he called "combines." These were some of the most arresting works of the post-war period. On some of them, such as "Bed"--his own paint-splattered pillow, sheet and patterned quilt--rests the artist's reputation as a significant linking figure between Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

"My heading for collage before I had any real aesthetic reason showed an appetite that still exists, an appetite for something other than the preconceived," Rauschenberg said in 1982. "To me, generously encouraging and including paradoxes is closer to realism than a single point of view which can imply that things should be a certain way. I think the interesting thing in life is that it can be any way, and it's always changing."

An aid to Rauschenberg's practice of combining images was a transfer-drawing technique he developed in the '50s. By dissolving printed images with a solvent and rubbing them onto paper with a pencil, Rauschenberg was able to combine many images from newspapers and magazines on a single surface. This method he later adapted to canvas by use of the photomechanical process of screenprinting. The early pieces he produced using screenprinting--contemporaneous with those by Andy Warhol--were among the most important works of the 1960s.

In 1963, Rauschenberg became one of the first artists younger than 40 to receive an important museum retrospective (at the Jewish Museum in New York). The following year, amid controversy, he won the grand prize for painting at the Venice Biennale, the world's oldest exposition for contemporary art.

Thereafter, Rauschenberg's interest in painting waned, and he was more occupied with performances, sculptures and installations. For four years (1963 through 1967) he staged, designed and choreographed live performances in which he also appeared onstage. Some were notable for an exploration of new electronic technology, others for a freewheeling sense of play. His elaborate sculptural installations, such as "Oracle" (1965) and "Soundings" (1968), also showed a remarkable development from junk contraptions to pieces of refined poetic beauty.

Rauschenberg often had said that New York was essential to an artist's development. But in 1969, on the advice of his astrologer, he sought a more peaceful existence and found it on Captiva, an island in the Gulf of Mexico near Ft. Myers, Fla. The compound he built there soon housed Untitled Press, which he intended to give printmaking opportunities to emerging artists as well as established masters. The venture was characteristic of both his generosity and desire for continuing experimentation.

In 1976, Rauschenberg became the Smithsonian Institution's "Bicentennial Artist," honored with a traveling retrospective that came to Chicago. During the run of that show, a survey published in West Germany named him as the most prominent contemporary artist in the world, with more work represented in museums, private collections and art publications than any other living artist from the previous two decades. He also was the first living American artist to be featured on the cover of Time magazine.

Near the end of his retrospective were two series of pieces that pointed in directions that would be seen in later works. The "Hoarfrost" series (1975) called upon Rauschenberg's familiar newspaper reproductions and fragments, printing them on veils of silk and other gauzy materials. This was a variation on early ideas brought together with continued exploration of the possibilities of the print medium.

The 1975 "Jammers" (1975-79), colored panels of silk propped against the wall by poles, was inspired by a trip to India but reflected the sea spray and sun of his home on Captiva. Here were large works resulting from a visit to another culture that remained autobiographical even while reflecting more impersonal artistic currents (Minimal and Process Art).

Rauschenberg said that his retrospective had set him thinking about earlier works. The large, openly autobiographical paintings he subsequently produced thus had recourse to older images and ways of working. However, the beginning of the 1980s also saw a new project: to present the small scenes and details of America in straight, black-and-white photographs. They eventually made up several exhibitions and books.

Among the more notable later projects, most of which extended a vocabulary he had invented earlier, were the Rauschenberg Overseas Cultural Interchange (1982-90), in which he intended to make art from the materials and artifacts of 22 countries; and the "One-Quarter Mile or 2 Furlong Piece," an additive work on his travels that, by continually unfolding, aspired to turn the world into a single painting.

"In the multiplicity of his interests and the wide-ranging collaborations he pursued, he was a distinctive figure," said Elizabeth Smith, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art. "He took from different sources, combined images and used popular materials, prefiguring much that came later [in art]. I see him as a precursor of post-modernism."