Posts Tagged ‘Visual Art’

The TED Conference has a reputation for attracting and honoring international dignataries, prize-winning scientists, and even rock stars. Always keen to shake things up, it’s giving its top honor — the TED Prize — to a graffiti artist. The 27-year old Parisian known publicly only as JR has been awarded the $100,000 prize.

Taking his work to the streets, JR photographs people living in poverty-stricken areas around the world. Then he enlarges the portraits and posts them (often illegally) on rooftops, building walls, or wherever he sees fit. His work has “shown” around in the world – including Kenya, Brazil, and China – on walls, broken bridges, and in slum villages.

In addition to the money, JR also gets “One Wish to Change the World” – an opportunity to create and lead a philanthropic project, funded by the TED community and staff, and Sapling Foundation. When asked what his “wish” will be, JR told The Independent, “I go to local communities, forgotten communities or antagonistic communities, and try to energize them and bring them together and make them think, through the medium of art. I would want my ‘wish’ to be something like that, but on a global scale.” He will present a plan for how to do that at next year’s TED Conference.

Past winners of the TED prize include Jamie Oliver, Bono, and Bill Clinton.

You can see a great slideshow of JR’s work here.

-Georgette Pierre

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Illustration is hardly a new art form — after all, it’s been around for just about as long as stories have, although it’s generally been confined to children’s literature (where it’s thrived).  But illustration has recently had a bit of resurgence in the grown-up art world.  Take Zak Smith‘s exhaustive project to depict every page of Thomas Pynchon’s dizzying epic Gravity’s Rainbow.  But my favorite is the cleaner and more colorful vision of a different American classic: Moby-Dick.

Matt Kish insists that he is “not an artist” — he could have fooled me.  He started his project last August. Working at the breakneck pace of nearly one per day, he is creating a small piece of art for each successive page of Herman Melville’s iconic novel. With about 300 pages down and 250 to go, he is set to finish sometime next spring.

Kish’s process goes something like this: he opens his copy of the book (the 552-page Signet Classic edition, to be specific), he reads the day’s page, pulls a particularly juicy sentence, and illustrates it on found paper (scraps discarded from the used bookstore at which he worked as a grad student). The finished pieces vary considerably — some are collages, some are paintings, but Kish is at his best when his work has a basis in line art.  The illustrations are meticulously detailed and often filled in with bright, colorful paints or pencils. And the outcome is nothing short of remarkable:

The recurring characters and images of the novel appropriately reappear throughout Kish’s series. Captain Ahab, for instance, appears as a bucket-shaped head with a single, staring eye and a lightning-shaped mark down his temple, while Moby-Dick himself is huge, ominous and, of course, strikingly white.

I adore this kind of art.  When I was little, I wanted to be an illustrator — every single entry in my first-grade journal is dutifully complemented with a careful crayon drawing depicting the words above.  These days, I’ve settled for doodling while I couple prose with sound instead.  But I’m dazzled by what Kish has already accomplished. I love watching him take a classic work of American literature and vitalize it with the sort of astoundingly beautiful images it deserves.

Here at Studio 360, we’re also fans of Ahab and the great White Whale.  Listen to our American Icons hour deconstructing Moby-Dick with Tony Kushner, Ray Bradbury, and Stanley Crouch.

— Becky Sullivan

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It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? Until one of the art world’s most renowned institutions began trafficking in amateur YouTube videos…

That’s the turn New York’s Guggenheim Museum is making. Instead of enlisting high-art hot shots, the museum will look to the masses for their fall schedule. Internet nobodys are currently submitting their video art for “YouTube Play,” an exhibit filled exclusively by online entrants.

I find the idea very cool. People who are not professional artists have the chance to present work in one of the world’s finest museums. Plus, the pieces will undoubtedly be engaging and weird — after all, it is the Guggenheim.

But the self-described “Biennial of Creative Video” begs the question of whether we need a museum, or any physical space, to show this kind of art. YouTube is already something of a gallery, a free one that operates 24/7 right from your computer. Why leave your house to see something you can pull up in any web browser?

On the other hand, the point of an art exhibition is to get many people into the same room, thinking and talking about what’s in front of them. “YouTube Play” would be a vast improvement on the way people usually interact with these videos: by leaving anonymous, half-baked comments on a website.

And the Guggenheim must have an eye on YouTube’s audience: that coveted demographic of younger users most (if not all) museums long to capture. We live in an age in which some of the most interesting new art is already at our fingertips – it takes years for it to reach gallery walls. So perhaps what the Guggenheim is saying is: if you can’t beat them, join them.

Submit your video through July 31 (read the fine print here) — a selection of up to 20 videos will be on view to the public October 22–24, with simultaneous presentations at the Guggenheim museums in Berlin, Bilbao, and Venice.

-Stephen Reader

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I got outed on the elevator the other day. A co-worker spotted knitting needles in my bag.

I rarely have a chance to knit these days, and compensate by indulging in the next best thing: looking at weird knitted art online.

Listening to this week’s show, I remembered an odd, thought-provoking site that can add to Jeremy Deller’s “Conversations about Iraq .” Artist Dave Cole has a series entitled “Kevlar Baby Clothes”, which features exactly that: baby clothes created from bullet-proof vests discarded from the war in Iraq.

 courtesy of judi rotenberg gallery

David Cole, Kevlar Baby Line

Cole’s work often juxtaposes the harsh realities of our world against the sentiments of childhood: a hand-knit, porcelain baby blanket (made from an “Extreme Temperature Refractory Ceramic Textile”); a teddy bear knit with fiber glass; an AK-47 that appears to be made from bubble gum. But something about the Kevlar onesie put a lump in my throat. I am knitting for a little man who will be here this January. I can only hope he’ll have to look up what Kevlar and suicide bombs mean when he grows up.

Dave Cole Kevlar Snowsuit, 2008

Dave Cole Kevlar Snowsuit, 2008

– Susie Karlowski

(You might also want to see Cole knit a HUGE American flag here.)

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Out of 1,262 artists from 41 states and 15 foreign countries, Ran Ortner was declared the winner at ArtPrize, the festival that took over Grand Rapids, Michigan for the last couple of weeks.  There were balloon sculptures and paper airplane demonstrations, but in the end, the public got behind Ortner’s two-dimensional painting, “Open Water no.24,” and made its creator $250,000 richer.  Ortner will be on the show next week to tell Kurt how his life as a struggling artist has been forever changed.  Until then, consider a couple others who fell short of the blue ribbon:

"Imagine That"

"Imagine That"

Second place finisher Tracy Van Duinen received raves for his tile mural, “Imagine That,” displayed outside the city’s Children’s Museum.  (He pocketed a cool $100,000 for his efforts.) Van Duinen worked in Chicago’s public school system, leading inner city kids to create large murals and sculptures.  Community groups in Grand Rapids helped assemble Van Duinen’s installation outside the museum, contributing the small paintings that were incorporated into the design and helping to adhere some of the tiles.  While Van Duinen fell short of first place, the city won big — it gets to keep “Imagine That.”  The mosaic will remain on the museum’s façade.

Works by Eric Daigh

Works by Eric Daigh

The Traverse City-based artist Eric Daigh took third prize, collecting $50,000 for “Portraits,” which consisted of three of his signature pushpin designs.  Taking inspiration from the artist Chuck Close and photographer Martin Schoeller, Daigh devised his own method for capturing his subjects.  He starts by taking photos of them and then using a computer program to create a very low resolution image.  Then he sets up a grid and gets to work dotting his canvas with five different colors of pushpins, the kind you  would tack onto a bulletin board.

Daigh seems destined for something big.  And he’ll always be able to pinpoint his success to ArtPrize.

– Jordan Sayle

How It's Done

How It's Done

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Today I joined Lisa Katayama for her interview with Erina Matsui, a 24-year-old artist who’s already gotten the attention of Takashi Murakami and other art world big-wigs. Erina paints playful and surrealistic self-portraits, which she says should make people laugh. So as we walked into the Yamamoto Gendai galley, I have to say I was a bit shocked to be greeted by photographs of guts being ripped out of cows. (The artist is Hermann Nitsch, if you’re up for being disturbed.) Kudos to the gallery for variety, I guess.

Anyway, once we went into the other room, Erina charmed us with her humility and quirkiness. She said her work is influenced by Dali and Rembrandt, but she also likes to incorporate characters and creatures from toys and manga.


Erina Matsui, "I love shrimp chili" (2003)

One image that shows up in a few of her paintings is an alien-looking amphibian, which I thought was her own creation. Then she said she had three of them as pets. (Named Napoleon I, II and III.) I asked, wait, they’re real? Yes, she said. It’s an axelotl. People used to tell her she looked like one, so she felt compelled to paint it. Am I the only one who hasn’t heard of this animal? Apparently they come from Mexico and were all the rage here a while ago.


I don’t know how I’d feel if my friends compared me to a little critter like that, but she embraced it.

When we were wrapping up the interview, I had to ask her one last question, which was what did she think of the art in the other room? Scary, she said. But she understands if the guy’s got a vision – that’s his prerogative.

She ended up joining me and Lisa for lunch and was kind enough to ride back with me on the subway. A remarkably sweet and humble young gal for someone who’s bound to make a big splash very soon.

– Leital Molad

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